Renters’ Insurance

Leases and rental agreements often include a clause alerting tenants to the fact that the landlord’s property insurance will not cover any losses to the tenant’s personal property that might result from an accident on the premises. For example, if a fire that’s the fault of the landlord destroys part of the rental unit and damages your possessions, the landlord’s policy will not cover you—it will compensate only the landlord for the cost of repairing the structure. You could demand compensation from the landlord and sue if necessary, but the source of any recovery will be the landlord, personally, not his insurance company.

Similarly, the landlord’s liability policy won’t cover you if property is damaged or someone is injured on the property as the result of your carelessness. This means that you may be personally responsible if your actions cause:

  • damage to the rental unit or other tenants’ property
  • loss of or damage to your belongings, or
  • injuries to yourself or others.

Because of these realities, you may see a clause in your lease or rental agreement requiring you to obtain renters’ insurance, which will cover losses to your belongings as a result of fire or theft and also provide coverage if your negligence causes property damage or injury to other people. Typically, landlords will ask for proof that you actually purchased renters’ insurance, such as a copy of your policy’s face sheet or a certificate of insurance from your company, which lists the type of policy, its coverage limits, and its expiration date. Whether it’s legal to require tenants to purchase liability insurance is a topic of hot debate among lawyers; one state, Virginia, has explicitly legislated that it is. (Va. Code Ann. §â

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