Summer is moving season -- the kids are out of school, so it’s the perfect time to make a change without having to pull them out of their class midway through the year. But what if you can’t sell your old house in time to move into the new one? Often, homeowners will choose to rent their old house, either as a temporary solution or to maintain it as an income property. For some, this can be a wise choice, but only if it’s done carefully.
Homeowners insurance covers owner-occupied, single family residences. If you choose to rent out your home, you no longer fit into this definition and need to purchase landlord insurance. Insurance companies view a rented home as a higher risk than an owner-occupied home. Renters may not care for the property as well as an owner does, and might not recognize or report problems in the home in a timely basis. And if they don’t know where the water main shut-off is in case of flood? A small problem could turn into a huge one pretty quickly.
Landlord insurance typically costs 15% to 20% more than a homeowners policy and it covers damage to the house and other structures on the property (like a freestanding garage or shed), provides fire and injury protection, and covers lost rental income if the renters stop paying their rent or damage the property to the point that it’s uninhabitable. It doesn’t cover damage to the renter’s property, but if you leave your flat screen behind for the renter’s use and it gets damaged, that will be covered.
Moving, becoming a landlord -- it’s a lot to think about. But you should think about it. Make sure you’re protected before you rent out your home.