When you’re considering the types of insurance you should obtain for your rental property, we find it helps to break it out into two categories; owner and tenant.

Homeowner’s Policy versus Landlord Policy

First, you’ll want to change your homeowner’s policy to a landlord policy. You need to do this as soon as you start renting out your home. It should provide you with coverage for the dwelling itself if there’s a catastrophe, such as a major fire at the property.

Your landlord policy should also cover you against any liability risks you may have at your property. For example, if a tenant falls down the stairs because of a loose step, your policy should cover the medical bills and other damages. A homeowner’s policy may not cover you for that type of risk, so it’s important that you make the switch. We recommend (and require of our owners) a minimum of one million dollars in liability coverage, however please talk to your insurance broker to go over the policy in detail and what it covers. They can walk you through the process and make sure you are properly covered.

Requiring Renter’s Insurance

The aspect of insurance that you’ll want to think about involves your tenants. You should require them to obtain their own renter’s insurance policy. This is a good practice, because it will protect the tenants if any of their personal property is damaged. Your landlord policy won’t cover their belongings. So, if there’s a leak and their television or furniture gets damaged, the renter’s insurance policy should step in and cover that cost, rather than them asking for you to do it.

Some renter’s insurance policies also provide your tenants with liability protection. For example, if they burn a pizza in the oven and cause $3,000 of property damage, they don’t have to pay for that out of pocket. Their renter’s policy could cover the cost of repairs. In addition, if the property becomes uninhabitable for a period of time, their insurance policy could cover the tenant’s living expenses if they have to go to a hotel for a couple of nights. Again, this protects the landlord from being asked to cover that expense.

At SJA Property Management, we require all tenants moving into one of our properties show proof of proper renter’s insurance. This is typically very inexpensive insurance, costing normally between $8 and $12 per month. It gives tenants peace of mind and really helps out our landlords as well.

Please contact us if you have any questions about our experience with this topic. SJA Property Management is an industry leader in the property management industry serving the Puget Sound area including Redmond, Bellevue, Kirkland, Woodinville, Seattle and surrounding cities.