As a renter, there is often a feeling of transience, of impermanence. This isn’t always negative. It may be that there’s always something to look forward to: the next town or city you live in, a property you’re saving bit-by-bit to buy, or the activity-led lifestyle which renting has allowed you to live. However, within the rental property, where your responsibility begins and ends can seem a little blurred. Being completely clued up on your rights as well the contract is essential.
However, it’s a little more than that. You may be contractually obliged to mow the lawn of the two-bed house you’re renting, but what happens if the lawnmower breaks? Do you have to replace that? This is where insurance kicks down the door and announces its arrival. The little savior in its spandex who everyone knows is there, and truly wants there, but doesn’t know whose responsibility it is to point in the direction of the thing that needs sorting out – they know it should get sorted if one of them does something. “Is this your problem or mine?”
There are a few things that renter’s insurance can cover. It is quite versatile.
Number one is the contents of the property which you, as a renter, own. It is similar to contents insurance, in this regard, which you may have had at your parent’s house when you lived there, for instance, but this contents insurance you had there will not cover you in this new apartment as you no longer live with your parents. So, that three-piece sofa that’s probably a little big for this apartment but you can’t even begin to think about selling? Covered. That PC gaming set-up which you put together yourself, thinking you looked like Henry Cavill, after hours and hours of research? Covered. Your husband’s phone that he’s always dropping without yet breaking? Covered. (Yes, they are covered, using Lemonade as an example, as long as you are indeed married, because those related by blood, marriage, or adoption, who live at the same address you do, are covered.) Your roommate’s guitar which he sings along to, thinking he sounds more soothing than droning?
Not covered: your roommate’s things will not be covered by your policy; they will need their own. Maybe send them to the same place you got your insurance quote. (For a definition of an insurance quote, click here.)
Number two is personal liability cover. If a friend hurts themselves on the property – say they slip on a spilt drink – and they decide to press charges, liability cover will ensure that the legal fees are covered, should it go that far.
Number three is financial coverage. This will cover the expense of living in temporary accommodation when your rental property is unavailable for a short period, if, for instance, there’s mold in a bedroom or a pest infestation. This policy can get you reimbursed for living expenses while using temporary accommodation like laundry or food.
This is where the confusion can come in. As you don’t own the property you live in, what you have to deal with and what the landlord has to deal with could make you hesitate to report an issue. “Is this my fault?”
Landlord’s insurance covers the property itself as well as the things inside which the landlord owns. There’s the dwelling coverage which will reimburse the landlord for repair costs if a tree falls through the shed, vandals tag the garage door, thieves smash a window. There’s the contents insurance which will mean that things like the fridge-freezer, washing machine, or other furniture are protected.
This type of insurance isn’t too dissimilar to business insurance either. Whereby, if say that tree which went through the shed actually goes through the garage which, in turn, causes some structural issues with the house itself, and the renter has to move out, then the landlord can claim for a loss of earnings while the property is being repaired or rebuilt.
There’s the standard personal liability coverage too, which will help cover fees if a tenant is injured by something in the house, which wasn’t their fault, and they decide to press charges.
The business aspect of being a landlord is quite clear with landlord insurance. It’s a product-service relationship.
It Shouldn’t be Complicated
Life as a renter shouldn’t be filled with the kind of confusion it sometimes is. The boundaries of responsibility should be clear. You may have to put some time into learning them, but it serves your best interest to know exactly what is going on so that you can protect yourself from situations that aren’t in your best interests.