Landlords: work with experienced attorney to address liabilities related to major property damage

| Mar 20, 2017 | Landlord/tenant Matters |

Renting property can be a lucrative business, but it does involve certain costs and legal duties and comes with certain risks. One of the duties landlords owe to tenants is to keep the rental property in a habitable condition. This means performing ongoing upkeep and maintenance work, and addressing property-related disasters when they occur.

In cases when serious damage occurs to a property, leaving the entire property or multiple units in an uninhabitable condition and forcing tenants to relocate, it can cost a lot for the landlord to restore the property to a habitable condition. This is one of the reasons landlords purchase landlord insurance. 

Landlord insurance protects landlords from financial losses stemming from fire, storms, burglaries and other risks. Such insurance is particularly important for properties that are at high risk for damage because of their location or other risk factors. Picking the right insurance policy is an important step, and for this the landlord has to identify the most significant risks, weigh the cost and benefits, and choose accordingly. Some policies protect rental properties from vandalism and theft, while others expand coverage to fire and windstorm damage. Comprehensive policies will cover these and other risks, and perhaps still others.

One risk that some comprehensive policies cover is loss of income when damage results in properties no longer being in a habitable condition. Depending on how long the uninhabitable condition lasts, landlords can be financially devastated if they don’t have appropriate coverage.

As with any form of insurance coverage, it is important not only to select the most appropriate policy, but also to fully understand the terms of the policy so that one can hold the insurance company to its contractual obligations. While insurance companies generally work to exercise good faith toward policyholders, in some cases they make mistakes or choose to shortchange their customers.

When that happens, working with an experienced attorney can help ensure that proper coverage is provided, or that the landlord’s rights are zealously advocated against the insurance company. When disasters occur, an experienced attorney can also help a landlord manage the legal duties they owe toward their tenants in order to minimize their liabilities. 

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