While the short answer to this question is that landlords in Virginia are not legally obligated to require renters insurance, there are more factors that you’ll need to keep in mind before you decide whether or not you’ll require your tenants to purchase renters insurance.
Before you rent out your property in Virginia, it’s crucial that you are up-to-date on the state laws that will govern your specific landlord duties and requirements. To protect your assets and your tenants, avoid lawsuits, and keep yourself from landing in hot water in the future, it is especially important for you to know how to handle renters insurance.
While landlord insurance is also optional, and you can choose to assume any risks that come from opting not to buy this insurance, renter’s insurance is a little more complicated.
The Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act has specific guidelines regarding renters insurance that you must follow to avoid getting in legal trouble when renting out your home.
This guide will explain everything you need to know about your responsibilities as a landlord when it comes to requiring renters insurance.
What is renters insurance?
Renters insurance is an insurance policy that covers a renter and their belongings in the case of an unexpected or uncontrollable event.
Life is unpredictable, and everyone has the potential to experience rough situations that are outside of their control. Even the best of the best tenants cannot prevent a break-in, a house fire, or a massive flood.
Renters insurance provides protection and security in the case that these events, or any other covered events, occur. Typically, renters insurance covers personal property, liability, and unexpected living expenses due to covered events.
If a fire destroys your property, renters insurance will provide your tenants with the cost to replace their clothing, furniture, and other personal belongings that may have been damaged or destroyed.
If an accident occurs on the renter’s watch causing one of their guests to sustain bodily harm, renters insurance can help cover medical bills that they may have to pay.
If your property is destroyed by a natural disaster or is otherwise uninhabitable, renters insurance will cover hotel costs or other costs for alternative living arrangements.
The benefit of renters insurance is that your renters don’t have to worry about experiencing financial hardship after an unexpected and unpreventable loss or accident.
What are my legal responsibilities involving renters insurance?
Just because the answer to “Is renter’s insurance required?” is no, doesn’t mean that you are absolved of all legal responsibilities involving renters insurance if you choose not to require it.
According to the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act, if you choose not to include a renters insurance requirement in your lease, you need to provide explicit, written notice.
Within this written notice, you need to provide the following information:
- Notice that you are not responsible for the renter’s personal property
- Notice that your homeowners insurance and landlord insurance do not cover the renter’s personal property
- Notice that it is the responsibility of the renter to purchase renters insurance if they want liability coverage and the option to have their personal property protected
As a landlord, your only legal exception to providing this notice is to require renters to purchase renters insurance (or to reimburse you the cost of renters insurance premiums if you purchase this insurance on their behalf). Otherwise, if you violate these Virginia renters insurance requirements, you are opening yourself up to legal action.
Why do landlords require renters insurance?
Do Virginia landlords have to require renter’s insurance for their tenants? No.
Should landlords require renters insurance? Absolutely.
With the addition of this one, simple requirement to your lease agreement, you are protecting yourself from accidentally violating Virginia law about providing written notice and keeping yourself safe from lawsuits in case an event occurs that causes damage to your renter’s personal property.
Even if a tenant does not have a chance of winning a lawsuit, they may still try to sue you. This will add unneeded stress and financial burden that you could have easily avoided by requiring renters insurance.
Other benefits of requiring renters insurance include weeding out renters that are not financially able to obtain this insurance and allowing you to focus on your own property in case of an emergency event.
The last thing you need after a tragic fire is to worry about handling a lawsuit or trying to find new living arrangements for your renter.
How much renters insurance should a landlord require?
While there is no absolute number that you need to aim for in terms of renters insurance, you should require renters to obtain a policy that covers their personal property, liability, and alternative living expenses.
Whether or not you decide to require renters insurance is ultimately up to you, but it is a step that we at RentSimple highly recommend.
Learn more about policies to keep in mind when renting out your Virginia property when you visit our website.