Is Renters’ Insurance Really Worth It?

Roof on fire

By Jade Rich

If you are one of the 104.5 million people who live in a rental unit in the United States, it is imperative to be aware of your rights and responsibilities. For example, many people erroneously believe that their landlord’s property insurance covers their personal belongings in the event of a fire or flood, but this is not entirely accurate. Instead, you are required to obtain renters’ insurance if you want to make sure that you will never be put into the awful position of losing everything that you own due to a weather-related incident or the negligence of another renter.

A shocking 66 percent of renters are not currently covered by their own insurance policy, and the primary culprit behind this minimal level of protection seems to be a lack of understanding. For example, many people will refer to the myth that renters’ insurance is expensive as their reason for not buying it. However, industry statistics indicate that the average monthly cost is only $12 per month.

This basic level of renters’ insurance protection typically offers approximately $30,000 in property coverage, and it includes $100,000 in liability coverage. You can also add a larger amount of coverage for a nominal fee, and the vast majority of people who opt for a more extensive renters’ policy do not pay more than $25 monthly.

With that in mind, there are several good reasons to consider a renters’ insurance policy. Here are six compelling reasons to consider:

#1: Your Landlord Has No Legal Obligation to Help Out

If your apartment burns down tomorrow, your landlord has no legal obligation to help you or any other renters with the replacement of damaged or destroyed property. Additionally, they do not need to help you find a temporary place to stay, and they also typically have the legal right to void the rest of your lease term. However, if you have renters’ insurance, you can get assistance with replacing your lost belongings, and you will also have your temporary living expenses covered.

#2: Coverage for Your Mistakes

Anyone can make a mistake that could lead to a flooded apartment or a kitchen fire. To make matters worse, you can be held legally responsible for the damage that you cause to the landlord’s property. In other words, you won’t get a chance to debate hardwood vs. carpet in the living room, and instead you may have to pay to replace whatever flooring the landlord chooses. You could even end up being sued by any other renters who are hurt or lose property due to your negligence.

#3: Protection from Theft

No insurance policy can stop you becoming a victim of theft, but your renters’ policy will enable you to replace your items if someone breaks into your apartment. There are almost 2.2 million burglaries every year in the United States, and the average loss is $2,096. Therefore, even if you have a $500 deductible, you can still dramatically reduce your losses after a break-in if you are protected by renters’ insurance. And as an added bonus, your renters’ policy even covers theft of your personal belongings that takes place outside the home.

#4: Assistance with Disasters

Not all natural disasters are covered by every renters’ policy, but it is common for these policies to protect your belongings during a fire, snowstorm, explosion, lightning strike, electrical surge, smoke, and certain types of water damage.

#5: It Will Help You Avoid Financial Issues

Some people falsely assume that their items are not worth insuring, but this is not the case for almost every renter. After all, if your annual policy costs $150 and your deductible is $500, you would only need to lose $650 worth of stuff for your policy to be worthwhile. Unless the value of all of your belongings is actually less than $650, you need to have renters’ insurance. Also, do not forget that a renters’ policy will help you with liability issues.

#6: Protection from Injury Lawsuits

It’s important to note that if a visitor hurts themselves due to a building or property defect on the rental property, your landlord can be held responsible for their medical bills. Unfortunately, you cannot use your landlord’s property insurance if someone is injured due to an issue that you caused in your apartment. A prime example would be an injury that was caused by your television set falling on someone’s leg. The liability coverage portion of your policy will cover the bills associated with this injury up to your limit, which is usually at least $100,000.

As you can see, signing up for renters’ insurance is a smart move. An increasingly large number of apartment communities are making it mandatory to have one of these policies, but you should not wait for anyone to force you to buy it. Instead, take responsibility for your future by acquiring a renter’s policy as soon as possible. Keep in mind that many companies that offer automobile insurance also have options for renters, and this could even save you money due to a multiple policy discount. With the average renter having at least $20,000 worth of belongings, it makes absolutely no sense in most situations to decide against this affordable insurance option.

Jade Rich is a freelance writer and Social Services Director who currently lives in the Northeast Atlanta area. She has been a frequent renter in the past and gained valuable rental’s insurance know-how during her first tenancy in an apartment.  

Image credit: © my1stlogin via fotolia

Parties, Pools, Playgrounds and Tenancy


There are many valid reasons why a person chooses to rent instead of purchasing a home. But even if the house deed is not in a person’s name, everyone who leases wants to feel as if it’s their little castle and that they are living like royalty.

A renter should be able to do anything they want in a rented place, as long as it falls within the boundaries of the rental agreement between themselves and their landlord. If a person is especially social, hosting parties that might include fun activities such as trampolines, pools, or inflatable bouncy houses, should not be an issue.

Liability for Accidents and Injuries

In reality your landlord legally has the obligation to make sure that your rented home remains safe for you and your guests. Before you rent party fixtures or set up children’s playground equipment in the yard, you should understand why your landlord may disallow some installations on their property.

Even if you have renter’s insurance, your landlord may still be held legally liable if you or one of your guests gets hurt on the party equipment. Because they own the house and the property, the landlord may have the ultimate responsibility when it comes to paying for any medical or legal expenses incurred because of the accident. With that, your home’s owner may want to avoid this financial and legal risk by barring you from having this equipment on the property.

Insurance Policy Exclusions

Your landlord could be the most fun-loving person and have an affinity for bounce houses just like you do. Their reluctance to allow the equipment on the property may not so much stem from their dislike of parties and desire to avoid legal liability, as it does from their insurance company’s exclusion of coverage for such fixtures.

Many homeowners and renter’s insurance policies alike refuse to cover accidents on such equipment, which is why so many landlords cannot legally allow trampolines and other similar structures to be set up on their properties. The landlord knows that their tenants are entitled to certain rights if they are injured on their property and want to avoid this happening. Think about it – if someone were to get hurt, your landlord would be left to pay the bill without being able to make a claim against his or her own homeowner’s insurance policy.

 Your Rights as a Tenant

As the tenant you do have your own rights. You still might be in a position to either bypass the landlord’s rules or come to a compromise, depending on the state you live in and the lease that you signed. You could offer to provide reasonable compromises to ensure everyone’s safety at the party so that the liability for accidents will be greatly decreased.

One way to meet the landlord halfway could include erecting an above ground pool behind a fenced-in area, removing items like ladders that could allow young children access to the pool, or having your guests sign accident waivers prior to using the equipment. Keep in mind, though, you will probably never be able to sway your landlord to allow you to have a trampoline on the property – it’s one of the five main things that are never coveredby homeowner’s insurance.

Putting into place compromising measures may reduce the risk to your landlord and their insurance company. However, before you make an offer, you should first consult with a lawyer who specializes in renter’s rights and housing laws in your state. Your attorney can help you draw up a contract between you and your home’s owner to consider. This contract could deflect more personal responsibility for your guests onto you and away from the owner of your residence.

When you live in a rented home, you expect to be able to do whatever a person wishes to do in his abode. If hosting parties is something you do frequently, you may want to ensure that your plans for the events are in accordance with the terms that you and your landlord agreed upon. It is always important to keep relations between the lessee and lessor positive. By taking your landlord’s needs into consideration, you are proving that you are a responsible renter.

Nadine Swayne forwards this article to help renters gain knowledge of their rights. Choosing to rent over having a mortgage is a personal decision and understanding the legalities are in the best interest of both you and your landlord.

Photo credit:

Dog Bite Laws: What Renters Need to Know


Whether on a tree-lined street or in an apartment in the city, the threat of a dog attack is becoming more likely. The influx of aggressive dogs in rental housing has increased over the past years, either due to negligence of the landlord in assessing the nature of their tenants’ dogs or due to the tenants’ failure to train and monitor their pets. Data that has been collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that there are almost 4.5 million dog bite victims in the U.S. each year.  The vast majority of canines will never bite someone seriously enough to break the skin. However, that does not mean that you can be careless in dealing with unfamiliar dogs. Disclaimer: This is not intended to act as legal advice. Please seek a legal professional to assess your particular situation and advise you accordingly.

The reality is that each and every animal could bite a person under any circumstance. If you’re a pet owner, this could cause you serious legal, financial, and emotional consequences, including the possibility of your beloved pet being quarantined or put down. Alternately, as a potential dog bite victim, you could be in for a painful event. Fortunately, there are several steps both parties can take to help reduce your risk.

Tips for Avoiding Dog-Related Legal Issues

State laws usually stipulate that any person who is legally visiting a private or public area can take legal recourse if bitten by a dog. In other words, if someone is visiting next door and is wounded by your pet (without provoking the attack), they would be able to sue you for all of the damages that they suffer.

Dogs that become classified as dangerous animals can be seized depending on their actions, and their owner will also face the possibility of fines and jail time. Some renters mistakenly believe that their landlord’s insurance will cover them, but this is not the case. The following are a few easy tips to protect yourself and your 4-legged companion:

1. Keep Your Landlord in the Loop – Renting a house comes with some responsibilities, including the fact that you need to ensure that all of your pets are legally allowed per the lease. This will protect you from being forced to make a decision between your pet and an eviction in the future, and it will also help your landlord stay safe when they visit the property. Make sure that you remind your landlord that you have a dog on the premises whenever they schedule a maintenance appointment. This level of open communication will dramatically reduce the risk of any unwanted incidents.

 2. Always Spay or Neuter Your Pets – Research indicates that most dog bites can be linked to an animal that was not spayed or neutered. Unfortunately, making the decision to skip this important medical procedure will result in a higher level of aggressive tendencies that can easily lead to an attack on a person or another animal. The ASPCA favors spaying, stating “unspayed females sometimes compete for the attention of a male dog by fighting. Spaying your dog can also eliminate the possibility of hormonally driven guarding behavior.”

3. Never Leave Your Dog Unattended – Some people think that it’s okay to stake their dog outside, but the truth is that this practice will make you much more likely to end up being liable for another’s injuries. If you do not have a fenced-in area for the dog to play, you will need to be with them at all times, and always keep them on a leash. Another factor for not leaving a dog tethered in an open area is that it could arouse an attack from another animal – potentially leading to a child or person being subject to harm in the frenzy of such a fight.

4. Focus on Proper Socialization and Training – Dogs might be touted as “man’s best friend,” but this does not mean that each of them is born prepared to live up to this title. You need to spend the proper amount of time training your pet and socializing them with other people. If you do so, they will respond in a gentler manner to future encounters with individuals who are not part of your immediate family.

Owning a dog is a large responsibility, so before you choose your favorite breed, do your research to figure out whether you are able to handle that breed’s tendencies. For example, huskies get separation anxiety, so that might not be the best choice for someone who works long hours. Similarly, border collies are high-energy dogs, which may not be suitable for small enclosed apartments especially if you are unable to provide them with the exercise they require. Also, be sure to plan on making the time and having finances available to invest in their proper upbringing. Fortunately, following these tips will make your pet much more likely to live a long and happy life without any violent incidents. As an added bonus, demonstrating a commitment to your dog via appropriate veterinary records and a good rental history will make future landlords more willing to accept you as a tenant prospect.

Photo Source:


Things To Consider Before Investing In A Rental Property

  Investment House Meaning Investing In Real Estate

Investors that have decided to invest in rental property have usually weighed the pros and cons of this type of investment versus other investment types. Although many people can succeed investing in real estate, investing in rental property isn’t for everyone. Real estate has proven to be a way to build significant wealth and can generate income, significant tax advantages and long-term appreciation. However, it is not the right decision for everyone. Questions like do you have enough time to devote to the maintenance of the property, are you comfortable trouble shooting or hiring a property manager are all questions that should be answered before deciding on this type of investment.

Rental property has always been recognized as a sound investment when planned for and researched properly. The most important factors to reap the benefits of this investment are the choice of the rental property itself and the projected value, income and associated costs to acquire and maintain the property.

Choosing the right property is critical in making this investment decision. The following factors should be taken into account when deciding which property to buy:

  • Schools: Rental homes featuring two or more bedrooms will attract families—and that means they will likely have children in school. If a school is nearby the home, it’s likely to be that much more popular with family tenants. In addition, school ratings can be a deciding factor in what home people would want to rent.
  • Crime:  Crime-prone neighborhoods can have higher turnover and longer vacancy rates, so a bargain purchase price may be less of a bargain than you had hoped for.
  • Commute:  Is there public transportation? Is the property a long commute from the commercial center of town? Many prospective tenants begin their housing search with their workplace as the center point. Renters will consider this before signing a lease—and as an investor you should take this into consideration as well before buying a rental property.
  • Neighborhood: Consider how the overall desirability of the neighborhood is likely to affect its appeal to tenants. Are there attractive amenities like parks, shopping and entertainment venues? What do the local classified ads reveal — is the area’s vacancy rate high or low? How do rental prices compare with adjacent neighborhoods?
  • Rental market projections for the area:  Do some research on what the projections are for home rental values in the future in the area you want to buy in. Are they building many new rental homes/apartments which could affect the rental price of your home? Is the area growing? What are the projections of the job market in the area?

Magnifying glass searching for unique house. Real estate market.Besides choosing the right property, an in-depth financial analysis of all rental income and costs related to the rental property in question is a must in figuring out whether buying this rental property as an investment will be successful. Analyzing the local rental market to set a competitive rental price is the next step. Too high a price might leave the place unrented for a while and too low a price will cut into your profits.

While rental properties are certainly appealing, offering the promise of monthly cash flow in addition to long-term appreciation and tax advantages, investment properties have a number of costs that are both visible and hidden. The following COSTS should be considered before buying rental property:

Mortgage: Mortgage costs for investment properties are higher than for primary residences as they are considered riskier. Rates might be up to 1.5% higher and a higher percentage in down payment might be required as well. In addition, your credit score has to be excellent to qualify for a mortgage for an investment.

Property taxes: Property taxes can add significantly to the property cost. Make sure to find out exactly how high they are in the area that you are buying.

Homeowners insurance: Insurance rates are dependent on the region, especially if your home is located in an area prone to flooding, fires, earthquakes or other natural disasters. Make sure you find out how much the insurance policy would be prior to purchasing the property.

Maintenance: The amount of money to budget for maintenance and upkeep of the property depends partially on the age of the property and where it is located. In general at least 10 percent of the annual property rent should be set aside for this. To get the maximum price for your property when you sell it, you’re going to have to keep it in great condition.

Utilities and Association Fees: Utilities like gas, electric and cable are often the responsibility of the tenant. Other services like water might be included in the rent. If so, make sure to get an estimate from the utility company of the average monthly usage. Association fees are usually the tenant’s responsibility as well, but if you decide to include them in the rent, please plan for it accordingly.

Other expenses:  Hiring a property manager who will be responsible for managing the maintenance of the rental property, will help searching for new suitable tenants and will take care of all the paperwork, can be expensive but will save you a lot of time. Expenses related to temporary vacancy of the property have to be taken into consideration as well, as do possible legal expenses and anything else that might come up.

If you’ve tallied up these expenses and you’re still in the black, this rental property might be a good investment. Budget carefully and stay on top of rent collections to ensure your property pays off. The rental property’s investment value grows as the loan is paid down month by month, year after year. Added to that is any appreciation in its market value. Needless to say, choosing the right rental property is worth the effort

How To Prepare Your Property For The Rental Market

Painting walls, interior decorationPeople have different reasons for renting out their property. Some people are in the property rental business and own and/or manage a large number of properties. Other people need to move somewhere temporarily but want to keep their home for future use. Then there are people who are determined to sell their property—but only at a price the market is not willing to pay yet. For these people a great option would be to rent out that property for a while. After all, smart investors are buying up and renting properties quite deliberately because they realize that a rental home is not just an asset that can appreciate over time, but one that can also produce income at the same time. Rental prices are on the rise and why not take advantage of that?

Whatever your reason for renting out your property, it will most likely need some work to get it ready for the rental market and get top dollar. Preparations in the following areas should be considered before your rental hits the market:

1. Make the Necessary Repairs and Check All Safety Features
On the top of the list should be all heating, plumbing, and roofing issues. All other issues that could be considered safety issues should be addressed as well. Repairs made now will save you time and money in the long run, and will safeguard against increased damage and costs later. Be sure fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in place and have been tested, and double-check that all windows, doors, and locks are in good working order.

2. Clean and Add Curb Appeal!
Clean the house thoroughly, including closets, fixtures, and appliances. Replace dirty carpets, polish wood floors, and make sure that the grout in tile floors has been spruced up. Remove all debris and trash from the entire property. If a one-time rubbish bin rental is necessary, go for it. Where needed, give each room a fresh coat of neutral colored paint. On the outside, tidy up the lawn and landscaping and make sure that the property has curb appeal. Sometimes replacing a mailbox, front door, adding some color by displaying flower pots, or a coat of fresh paint, can make a huge difference.

3. Prepare Proper Documentation of Your Home and Its Contents
Plan to inspect and document your rental home before tenants move in; then once again immediately after they move out. This is imperative and will serve as documentation of damage caused by the tenant if that warrants withholding the security deposit for repairs. Photos, a checklist, and even a quick video can do the job.

4. Decide on Clear Leasing Criteria and Screen Your Tenants Thoroughly
Before you prepare a rental application, it’s a good idea to pin down the leasing criteria to help determine who will be qualified to become your tenant. Some common criteria to take into account are:

  • No prior evictions
  • Good credit
  • No foreclosures or bankruptcies
  • No criminal convictions
  • No pets
  • No smoking
  • Good References

A quality tenant background check is a must. An online service like Houserie to do your screening for you makes a tenant background check a breeze.

But whatever your choices, do remember to follow the Fair Housing Act guidelines.

5. Get Rental Property Insurance (Landlord Insurance)
Landlord insurance is not the same as renters insurance, which covers the tenant’s property. A good landlord insurance policy protects you; it should cover everything from major damage inflicted by tenants to legal action they might take against you.

6. Prepare All Lease Documents in Advance
There are many basic lease agreements and other documents available online that can be downloaded. You can also have an experienced lawyer prepare (or just review) these documents. Other rental documents you might need include credit check authorization forms, move-in checklists, and any other notices you wish to post to tenants. These forms are all available online.

Preparing your property for the rental market is an important and critical step in the leasing process. Following some of the advice mentioned in this article will make the whole process a lot easier and will give you more bang for your buck. If this sounds like too much work, a property management company can handle some or all of it for you.

Burned Twice? Ways To Extinguish Denied Rental Fire Insurance Claims


People who rent a house, apartment, or other type of dwelling sometimes make the mistake of believing that they do not deserve the same financial protection as homeowners. Renting a home or an apartment doesn’t mean that your belongings will be a lost cause in case of a fire, theft or flood damage. However, you can protect your belongings just the same as families who own homes, by investing in renters insurance.

Renters insurance is designed to safeguard many types of belongings inside a rented home, including electronics, clothing, and jewelry, from unforeseen disasters like flooding, lightening, fires, and theft. Even with this protection, however, some renters may still be left fighting for their financial futures when their claims are denied by their insurers. Rather than submit yourself to such monetary losses, you can fight a denial by knowing your renters insurance rights and by taking these proactive actions.

Make A List of Your Belongings

Insurers may deny you by simply saying that the items for which you filed the claim were never protected in the first place. After you buy a policy, it is vital that you make a thorough list of these items, take pictures and write down their full descriptions, as well as serial numbers for future reference. You should give a copy of the list to your insurance agent and then store your copy in a safe place, such as in a safe deposit box at your bank, in one of your email folders, in a cloud storage account, or at the house of a trusted friend or relative. If you need to file a claim at some point in the future, you can reduce the likelihood of being denied by using this list to prove what items you had insured.

Document Valuable Items

Your insurer might deny you as well by saying that your assets were not that significantly damaged or valued at less than your appraisal. Rather than settle for less money than you are entitled to, you should take pictures or videos to document the full extent of the damage to solidify your claim or submit your copy of an appraisal report if you have this proof on hand. With substantiated documentation, your insurer may be less likely to deny you and instead give you the financial help you need to rebuild your life.

Get Legal Help

Many people forget that they can hire an attorney to help them fight a denial. When your insurer refuses to back down, you should  consult with a legal professional to guide and advocate for you. Once you have an lawyer by your side, your insurance company may be more willing to compromise. Most insurers do not like going to court and would rather settle if possible. With a lawyer to fight for your rights, you can close your case sooner and get back to living your life with the insurance money you need to replace your valuables.

Do You Know Your State Laws?

With an attorney to counsel you, you can know your rights as they pertain to your state. For instance, the tenant and landlord laws in Pennsylvania may be totally different than say, Washington state. Being a renter does not mean that you have less legal standing or importance in the eyes of the law.

The law recognizes that you have the same right to housing and assets as anyone else. You also have the right to make a claim against a policy for which you have been paying regularly. Your lawyer can make sure your rights are protected and advocated for throughout the legal process.

Renters insurance can be an invaluable asset when you rent a house or an apartment. However, when your claims are denied, you can get the money you need to move forward and protect your belongings by taking these assertive steps.

Knowing the importance of documentation for insurance policies enables Nadine Swayne to offer these tips. If you unfortunately have a fire in your home, it is vital to have an existing list so you can take stock of your damaged items when filing a claim with your insurer. Whether you rent or buy a home or apartment, know your rights!