Thursday, December 29, 2011

What do I do if the house I rented catches fire?

Get renters insurance ahead of time!

The landlord really does not have an obligation under insurance purposes.

The tenant may not be able to occupy the property and would need to find someplace else to live. If it is a lease, the tenant could be allowed to move back in once the property is repaired, but that would depend upon how the lease is structured. They may still have to pay rent. In a month to month, it would be up to the landlord. Under a landlords policy, the landlord is covered for structure, loss of rents while being repaired, liability, medical payments to others,  and any personal property named in the policy. The tenant on the other hand would need to have renters insurance which would cover the tenants personal property, liability, loss of use (which would help them rent a hotel room or get them set up in a new place) and medical payments to others. If the tenant does not have renters insurance, they are out of luck. I have heard in some instances where a landlord had another vacant property nearby and offered it to the tenant, or where they put them up in  a motel for a short time, but that is up to the landlord.
Another issue is what was the cause of the damage. Was there a wiring problem? Did the tenant BBQ under the patio and it caught fire? This can have an impact on the decision process. For these reasons and others many landlords are now requiring their tenants to have renters insurance and name the landlord as a loss payee or additional insured.

If you are renting, getting renters insurance is a great way to protect yourself. Read your lease or rental agreement and if you have questions, contact your property manager, leasing agent, or legal counsel. The landlord has protection, you should too.

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