Rental property owners often ask if landlord insurance covers vandalism. Whether you own one, or multiple rental properties, the truth is that you have worked hard to create and own your portfolio of rental properties. And you value the importance of protecting your hard-earned property. However, vandalism is a lurking threat, faced by many property owners in South Florida. And do you know if your insurance covers it?
So, What Exactly Is Vandalism?
Vandalism includes acts of “deliberate destruction and damage to a property”. Vandalism can take up many forms, such as broken windows, damaged frontage, graffiti, damaged fencing, and torn-up carpeting. In its simplest, any kind of deliberate damage caused by a person with the intent to destroy your property is classified as vandalism. But does landlord insurance cover damage from vandalism?
Acts of vandalism on a rental property are not only carried out by external parties. Tenants and their guests are also known to damage a rental property, knowingly or unknowingly. Insurance companies sometimes refer to vandalism as “Malicious Intent”, but the result is the same.
Is it Vandalism Or Accidental Damage?
Vandalism is usually when a third party intentionally damages or destroys your property or properties. So, if an irate tenant punches a hole in the wall, tears up the carpeting, or hurls a stone through the window to damage your property – it is an act of vandalism. However accidental damage is different.
Kids sending a ball through a window while playing outdoors with friends is accidental damage and addressed as such. In both cases, you are left with the bill to fix a broken window glass. But it is important to note the differing circumstances and intent. And understand if landlord insurance covers which of these damages?
So, How Much Does Landlord Insurance Cover?
Unless you purchase additional cover, most insurance policies will cover up to $100,000 of damage caused by vandalism. But note, that most insurance policies come with a deductible amount before the policy comes into effect. Depending on the deductible agreed to on your policy, you may have to pay the first $500 or $1,000 yourself.
In some cases, insurance policies will only cover specific types of damage to a rental property – such as damage resulting from fire (and smoke). It is always best to check the type and extent of coverage offered by an insurer beforehand. And understand exactly the different kinds of damage your landlord insurance covers. Getting wrong-footed at the last minute not only adds to the emotional trauma of handling damage to your valued asset but also potential cash flow problems. Especially if the damage is significant.
Also, bear in mind, that landlord insurance typically does not cover intentional acts of damage to your rental property. So, if you were to deliberately knock down a wall, or set off a fire in the garage, in the hope of filing a claim – think again! Filing a claim and convincing your insurer about fictitious motives behind malicious damage is a different thing altogether.
Protecting Your Property From Being Vandalized
Despite best intentions, things can happen to your rental property. And it is advisable to take the right steps to safeguard your precious investment assets, by minimizing risks. By being a proactive landlord and taking the following steps, you can safeguard your rental property against vandalism:
- Use good quality locks and self-closing doors (and gates) to limit ingress
- Install a reliable and well-rated security system of CCTV cameras, motion sensors, and smart lighting systems across the property, especially in dimly lit areas.
- Go for a high-quality alarm system, preferably with smart-surveillance features to pick up and inform you 24/7 of unwanted intruders on your property. Most systems feature video recording and real-time playback, even in very low-light conditions.
- Check windows and doors periodically for proper closure and locking. This is especially true if you plan to leave your rental property unattended for a length of time.
- Conduct regular property inspections to identify early signs of damage. Sometimes, that innocent-looking hole in the fencing is much more than it seems at first sight. It can double as a convenient means for a vandal to enter and damage your property.
- If your property has been vacant for some time, tall, overgrown grass can double as a spot for vandals to hide and carry out illicit business.
- Hire a reliable and trusted property manager to manage your property, especially if you reside well away from it, or in a different state altogether. By ensuring you have a professional caretaker to watch over your property, you can minimize the stress of doing so yourself.
- Maintain good relations with the neighbors, and they will be happy to keep an eye out for you.
Tenants Can Also Be A Source of Vandalism
Sometimes your tenants and their guests are also the source of damage to your rental property. Since acts of vandalism are not limited to just outsiders, it pays to take precautionary measures with tenants too.
- Conduct a detailed tenant background check to gain proper insights into your prospective tenant’s character, rental history, and legal history. If the prospect has had issues with previous landlords, has not kept up rent payments, or has been evicted, you are better off without him.
- Contact previous landlords as references the prospective tenant has offered
- Conduct a credit background and credit history check to ascertain their financial capabilities to meet the rent obligations.
- Insist on a high amount as a refundable security deposit, within the limits set by your state laws. A large amount of their money on the line serves as a strong deterrent for tenants.
- Create a detailed inventory of the fixtures and items in your property, taking pictures (and even videos) as you go along. This helps to document not only their location but also the condition, at the time of letting out the property.
- Go through the inventory list with your tenants as part of the move-in process, taking time to highlight the details, and mention the cost of replacing high-value items on your property.
How We Can Help.
Credit and background checks are an important requirement for renting your property. Combined with personal due diligence, they are the starting point to a hassle-free and mutually rewarding relationship, that provides a steady rental income for many years to come. Who knows this better than us?
Real Property Management Premier provides professional, trustworthy property management services, from tenant screening to leasing to maintenance to evictions. Whether you are an investor with multiple rental properties or have a single rental, we have the services and solutions to increase the bottom line of your Florida rental property. Follow our expert tips to increase the bottom line of your Florida rental property.
Call us today to find out more.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.