Over the last few years many homeowners have turned into landlords. With the real estate market drop, those that decided to purchase a new house also decided to not sell their prior home for fear of a financial loss on the property. Instead, they have turned their prior house into a rental. The trend still continues today even after the real estate market has rebounded some because landlords are seeing great cash flows from renting.
Here at Fey Insurance Services we insure a number of these properties and on occasion we are asked by clients if we have any insurance tips in renting a property. When asked we always mention these five things:
1. Temperature Requirement in the Lease: It is a good idea to include a clause in your lease that requires the tenant to keep the heat no colder than 59 degrees. This is important because around the Holidays many tenants will travel and if they want to try and save a buck they may turn off the heat. Pipes do not enjoy this especially with a polar vortex threatening again this year. This way, if they do turn the heat off and pipes break you can pass that damage on to the tenant.
2. Renters Insurance for Tenants: Since you may have passed on the risk of pipe freezing damage to your tenant you then want to make sure they have insurance in place to pay for such damages. Requiring tenants to have renters insurance is a good idea. Not only does it protect their contents (which is excluded under your policy), it protects your property if they are negligent in causing damage to your property. I would recommend they have liability limits at least the value of your property.
3. Dogs: Know your states laws on dog attacks. For example, in Kentucky there was a law recently passed that could drag landlords into dog attack claims. This may make it difficult to get insurance for a property that has a dog. If you are going to allow dogs to live on your premises it is best to limit which kinds as some insurance policies exclude coverage for "vicious dogs".
4. Loss of Rents Coverage. Make sure your rental property insurance policy includes coverage for loss of rents. If you sign a year's lease with someone and then have a fire a month later, you are going to be out 11 months of rent or at least however many months it takes to rebuild the house. You can recoup this loss with loss of rent coverage. Also, make sure that you have enough loss of rent coverage. Many polices give you 10% of your dwelling limit or give you a flat $25,000. Add up your annual rents and make sure you have enough coverage.
5. Certificates of Insurance from Contractors: Unless you yourself are handy, you may be employing contractors to do fixes around your rental property. We strongly recommend you ask these contractors for proof that they have insurance. If they were ever to cause damage to your tenants contents or to your tenants person, you would want to make sure they have insurance to cover such things.