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Landlord weighs claim costs against rental’s marketability by Robert Griswold

landlord helpQ: Can I require my tenant who’s on a month-to-month rental agreement to possess renters insurance?

She had a kitchen fire over a year ago and did not have insurance.

My insurance company paid off my claim and tried to collect from my tenant but dropped the case when it was determined that my tenant didn’t have any resources.

I am worried that my insurance premiums will go up because of the claim and my tenant’s failure to have her own renters insurance policy.

A: The importance of renters insurance is often overlooked by most landlords until they have an experience like the one you described.

Yes, you can have a clause in your rental agreement or lease that requires your tenant to provide a certain minimum amount of renters insurance. It is fairly easy to implement for new incoming tenants.

Of course, you need to be aware that this is an expense that could lead to some prospective tenants electing to rent elsewhere because other landlords have no such requirement.

To change your policy and require renters insurance for existing tenants would require you to provide them with a 30-day written notice of a change in the terms of the tenancy if they are on a month-to-month rental agreement like your current tenant or include the clause at the time of lease renewal if you have a tenant on a lease.

E-mail your questions to Rental Q&A at [email protected]. Questions should be brief and cannot be answered individually.

Copyright 2010 Inman News

See Robert Griswold’s feature, Cover All Bases When Extending Tenant Lease.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at

  • cb in austin

    When I was a renter years ago, it was my understanding that the landlord’s insurance covered the apartment and the renters insurance covered the contents. If a water pipe burst and I didn’t have insurance, too bad for my stuff.

    A low cost solution would be to mount an extinguisher in the kitchen and tell tenants how and when to use it. If they shoot it off at a party or steal it, it comes out of their deposit.

  • CT

    More reliable than a wall mounted fire extinguisher are products like
    Williams-Pyro’s Stovetop FireStop SMARTX INC’s SMARTX AX-300 SYSTEM that mount under the kitchen hood and attack the fire before it gets beyond the stove. Reduces total fire damages. Cost is reasonable and some insurers charge less if you have them

  • barbara

    Can some one add more information as to whether the insurance went up or not??

  • Paul Silva

    It is my understanding that in New York State, a landlord cannot require that lack of Renters insurance would be a breach of Lease.

    Regarding cost, An Insurance agent for Brooklyn NY apartments quoted less than $100 per year per apartment, certainly reasonable in my book.

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