Does Landlord Insurance Cover Tenant Damage?

If we had to guess what landlords dream about, we would say punctual rent payments and tidy tenants who avoid nails when hanging up artwork. 

But what do landlords have nightmares of? Probably chipped countertops. Broken windows. Beige carpet stained with fruit punch. And the living room walls are covered in dozens of nail holes.

While being a landlord in Brooklyn can be lucrative, it’s not without risk. One of said risks is tenant damage, which can leave a once pristine unit unrentable (and a landlord unable to peacefully sleep).

Landlord insurance can help offset unforeseen costs or monetary loss in some renting scenarios. At Lincoln Brokerage, there’s one question we consistently hear regarding this type of coverage. 

Does landlord insurance cover tenant damage?

Sometimes. While landlord insurance can cover the cost of damages caused by tenants, there are other scenarios that could leave a landlord financially responsible for repairs. Keep reading to learn how landlord insurance works.

What Is Tenant Damage?

Tenant damage is damage that results from a renter’s abuse or neglect. Examples include:

  • Chipped countertops
  • Holes in walls from hanging pictures
  • Broken windows
  • Heavily stained carpet
  • Chipped floor tiles
  • Pet damage

If a tenant’s day-to-day living routine has affected the value and function of a rented space, the documented damage is likely to be classified as tenant damage.

Does Landlord Insurance Cover Tenant Damage?

In many cases, yes; landlord insurance does cover tenant damage. But like most insurance policies, there is small print to be aware of. First, let’s start with the three main types of coverage landlord insurance provides, which includes:

Loss of income

Should a rental unit or building be damaged in a covered peril and can no longer be rented out, a landlord may be reimbursed for lost income under this type of coverage. Keep in mind that it does not apply to voluntary vacancies, such as during a major building renovation.

Liability

It’s not unheard of for a tenant to be injured in common spaces within a rental property, like an icy parking lot. It’s also not unheard of for an injured tenant to sue their landlord for negligence. Liability coverage can help cover legal fees and, if necessary, costs associated with a settlement.

Property Damage

Property damage coverage applies to the physical structure of a building along with any common areas. While it doesn’t cover a tenant’s possessions, it does cover items owned by a landlord that a tenant uses (like appliances and light fixtures).

Here’s an example to help explain landlord insurance further. Joe owns a rental building with three units. A small kitchen fire has left his first unit uninhabitable while it undergoes repairs. In the second unit, the carpets are excessively stained by a previous tenant. While the third unit is currently occupied, the tenant tripped over some loose carpet in the hallway and is suing Joe for the cost of his medical bills.

Joe may be having a rough day. But if his landlord insurance includes all three types of coverage discussed above, he can breathe a sigh of relief as all three scenarios should be covered.

What Does Landlord Insurance Not Cover?

Landlord insurance includes exclusions property owners should be aware of, including:

Maintenance Exclusions

Maintenance exclusions are also known as wear and tear. General traffic paths in carpets won’t qualify for a replacement while replacing an old dishwasher that has become less efficient over the years won’t be covered either.

Intentional Damage

Intentional damage includes vandalism. Damage caused purposely and maliciously by a tenant is rarely covered by landlord insurance. This is unfortunate because this type of damage is often the most expensive to repair. 

Is Landlord Insurance Required?

New York law does not require landlords to purchase landlord insurance. But before forgoing coverage, landlords should check with their mortgage company, if applicable, as they may require a policy to be in place.

Potential tenants may also inquire about a landlord’s insurance policies. Even though landlords insurance doesn’t cover a tenant’s possessions, remember that it does offer coverage for injuries sustained on rental property. 

Other Types of Useful Insurance

Landlord insurance can certainly provide peace of mind to rental unit owners and their tenants alike. There are additional policies and riders landlords should consider if they want to secure additional protection, including: 

Personal Umbrella Policy

All landlord policies have coverage limits. To ensure claims are covered in their entirety, an additional umbrella policy is a wise approach. Though typically viewed as a secondary policy, an umbrella policy may also serve as primary insurance for losses not covered by a primary policy.

Disaster Insurance

Earthquakes in Brooklyn are rare. But if your rental unit is within two miles of a coastline, flood damage is a threat. Purchasing a disaster insurance policy can provide coverage against disasters when a primary policy doesn’t. 

Vandalism Rider

As previously mentioned, vandalism committed by a tenant isn’t covered in a standard landlord insurance policy. But many carriers offer the option of purchasing a vandalism rider to cover such scenarios.

How to Get Landlord Insurance

So, does landlord insurance cover tenant damage? The truth is that every scenario is different. 

But in general, landlord insurance shields a landlord’s investment by protecting their physical property from damage (including tenant damage), minimizing financial blows from litigation stemming from a tenant injury, and helping to recoup lost income should a unit temporarily become unrentable. While landlords are not required to have landlord insurance, making the decision to purchase a policy is often viewed as a smart choice.

Reach out to one of our brokers today to learn how we can provide you with a Brooklyn landlord insurance policy that will have you sleeping soundly again.

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