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Is requiring renters insurance a good idea?

If you own commercial property, chances are you network with other property owners in your area of Florida. In your talks with these men and women, you may have heard upsetting accounts of landlords facing financial burdens following a devastating incident such as a fire, flood or storm. When tenants suffer losses in these disasters, the landlord may feel compelled to step in and help, or the tenant may file a lawsuit that results in even more financial loss to the landlord.

One way to minimize the chances that you will be caught in the middle of your tenant's tragedy is to require your renters to carry renters insurance. These policies not only protect your tenants, but they can benefit you as well.

Your tenants' policies protect you, too

Federal law does not require a tenant to carry insurance the way the law requires drivers to be insured. Nevertheless, the law does permit landlords to require a renter to show proof of renters insurance when signing or renewing a lease. Such policies benefit the renter in two ways. First, the insurance covers personal property that is destroyed, damaged or stolen. Secondly, the policy covers a renter who is liable for injuries to a guest, such as if the renter's dog bites someone.

You may be able to persuade your tenants of the benefits of renters insurance by pointing out that, even if they believe they have little to insure, if they lost everything in a fire or flood, it may cost thousands of dollars to replace even the most basic belongings, such as clothes, shoes, furniture and electronic devices. However, you will also benefit in these ways if your tenants are insured:

  • You will not have to feel obligated to cover relocation expenses for your tenants if your building becomes uninhabitable.
  • You will feel reassured knowing your tenants will have a resource to replace their property.
  • You can allow your tenants to have pets knowing their insurance will cover any property damage the animal causes and dog bite liability if the animal injures someone.
  • Your insurance premiums will be less likely to rise from multiple claims renters may make for personal property damage.
  • Requiring your tenants to carry their own insurance policies may also reduce the chances that they or their guests will file lawsuits against you if they suffer injuries on your property.

Responsible tenants can be a joy for a landlord. However, when you face disputes with your tenants, whether regarding liability for damages or other issues, you may wish to seek legal advice for the best course of action in reaching a positive resolution.

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