Insurance Basics
April 16, 2024

How Long Can a Landlord Leave You Without Electricity?

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Steadily's blog cover page for information around landlord insurance.

When you've paid your rent and other associated costs to your landlord on time, they must provide essential services and facilities to you. If facing any issue with your tenant or landlord, it becomes crucial to know what can be done in such situations.

Knowing what a tenant is entitled to and what a landlord is obligated to provide can be confusing. If you're facing problems because your landlord has turned off the electricity, or is conducting extensive repairs, know what to do by reading below.

Knowing Your Rights as A Landlord

An individual who leases out a property, residential or commercial, is known as a landlord. When you're leasing out any property, it's crucial to understand what you can or cannot do to prevent any legal troubles further down the line.

Depending on which state you reside in, landlord-tenant laws can differ, but the main objective behind all of them remains the same. Before you begin to list your property as a rental property, know the entire process from start to finish so you don't miss out on any critical flags.

One of the most important aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship is what happens if there is a lease violation. As a landlord, you can't simply evict your tenants or conduct any other illegal actions.

A landlord cannot cut off electricity, water, or other utility services unless there is a pre-causative reason (like not paying bills leading to service cut-off). Landlords have to comply with federal laws along with specific landlord-tenant laws in all states.

As a landlord, you may be planning on making repairs or renovating the property while your tenant is still living there. In such situations, electricity can be cut for around 30 days, depending on the extent and severity of the repairs. If the landlord conducts repairs for a problem deemed a hazard, the repairs could take much longer.

Tip: If you're planning on leasing a property, consider opting for insurance that can cover you in cases where legal disputes arise or undue damage has been caused on your property due to your tenant.

Knowing Your Rights as A Tenant

There are specific laws that protect tenants in situations where violations or disputes have arisen with their landlord. It's ideal to be informed before you enter any leasing agreement so that you're not evicted for unintentionally breaking a clause.

Renters' rights are different depending on which state and locality you are planning on residing in. They are designed to prevent housing discrimination and unarbitrary increase in rent prices. Some rights you are universally entitled to no matter what state you live in are:

  • Fair Housing Rights: If you've applied to rent a property, the landlord cannot reject you based on race, color, age, sex, religion, mental or physical disability. It is covered under Federal Fair Housing Act. There may be additional laws available for states to protect tenants further.
  • Habitable Home Rights: The property you are looking to move into must be safe to live in. There must not be any hazardous components on the property and should have all utilities, including heat, water, and electricity.
  • Eviction Rights: When you've broken a clause in the lease agreement, your landlord has the right to evict you. However, you are entitled to a notice of eviction and time to remedy the cause for your eviction.

As a renter, it is crucial that you read through the lease carefully to prevent yourself from being hindered further down the line while living on the rented property.

Tip: Consider taking the help of an expert to help you read through and understand a lease agreement thoroughly before you sign it. Find out whether there is a tenant association in the complex you're planning to move to.

Difference Between Homeowner and Landlord Insurance

When you're thinking of renting out your property, you need to know whether insurance is necessary before beginning the process. Depending on your property and the type of lease you're planning to offer, the type of insurance needed can vary.

If you already have homeowner's insurance on your property, you will still need to switch the insurance to one catered for landlords. Homeowners insurance is suited only for individuals who are residing on the property they are insuring. The insurance typically covers personal property damage and a few other aspects.

On the other hand, Landlord insurance is specifically for individuals who are planning on leasing their property. It covers damage costs for any event, including burst pipes, floods, fire, and other natural weather events. It can also cover liability protection if the tenant decides to sue for legal or medical expenses.

Note: There is a difference in pricing as well between homeowner and landlord insurance. On average, landlord insurance can cost up to 25% to 30% more than homeowners insurance due to the increased liabilities.

Get To Know Landlord Insurance

Insurance for landlords is exclusively for those who plan to lease their properties to other individuals. It covers any damage that occurs to the property while it is being leased.

If a fire breaks out on your leased property due to mishandling by your tenant or unavoidable circumstances, your insurance can help cover the costs of the damage to the property. If the fire spreads out and damages other property, the insurance can help you cover the costs of those renovations.

However, the insurance would only cover the damage caused to the landlord's property, not the tenant's personal possessions or personal property. If the tenant is injured and demanding medical compensation for their landlord, the insurance can cover that.

Tip: Contact various insurance companies and get a thorough breakdown of the services and features they provide before settling on one. You want to ensure that your requirements are comprehensively met before you get the ideal landlord's insurance.

Types of Landlord Insurance

The level of coverage you can receive from your insurance is dependent on how much you pay and what type of plan you've selected. There are several common types of insurance for landlords, including:

  • Extremely Limited Coverage (Dwelling Policy 1): These are the cheapest option for landlords. It usually covers limited specific causes like fire & lightning, vandalism, etc.
  • Moderate Coverage (Dwelling Policy 2): The insurance will pay the replacement cost of the damage caused instead of depreciated cost value (like in DP1). Has more causes and aspects covered compared to DP1
  • Comprehensive Coverage (Dwelling Policy 3): Highly popular among landlords. It provides the broadest coverage in terms of damage and repair or renovation costs.
Note: Depending on the assessed level of risk and liabilities associated with your property, the cost of landlord insurance can vary for each home/property. Get quotes from multiple companies before making your final decision.

What is Renter's Insurance?

If you are a tenant without insurance, you can be vulnerable to any damage to your personal possessions while you're residing on the rented property. Getting renter's insurance is crucial to protect you in case of an adverse event or any liabilities.

A landlord does not need to get both the renter's and landlord's insurance as they are two different aspects of different parties. There can be some confusion since landlord insurance is also known as rental property insurance.

Many landlords require their tenants to have compulsory renter's insurance to cover their losses in case of liability. This type of insurance usually covers the tenant's costs for personal property damage, liability protection, and Additional Living Expenses (ALE) protection.

Depending on your insurance plan's comprehensive plan, you may receive an Actual Cash Value for your reported damages or the replacement cost.

Tip: Confirm with your landlord ahead of time whether they need proof of your renter's insurance; you may need to show documented proof of your insurance (if you don't have proof then your insurance company can issue an insurance binder). Consult with different companies about the annual premiums you have to pay before settling on the ideal insurance company.

When to Consider Landlord Insurance

Landlord insurance is not mandated by any law but is an excellent idea to acquire no matter what type of property you plan to lease. It can cover you against any unforeseen damages and liabilities. Covering your leased property's costs and renovation out-of-pocket can put a significant strain on your wallet.

Note: A deductible is an amount you pay before the insurance provider pays any other expenses. The deductible amount is dependent on the type of damage, liability, and other factors.

Consider how much deductible you will have to pay to claim insurance as well. Depending on how long you're planning on leasing out your property, you can find various customized plans for your requirements.

Comprehensively Cover Your Bases Before Renting/Leasing a Property

Regardless of whether you're planning on leasing your property to a friend or family, getting adequate insurance can protect both you and your tenant in case something ever happens.

Getting a landlord or renter's insurance can also give peace of mind to both parties and ensure that the contracted period goes by without a hitch. So in the event that your landlord cuts off your electricity, you have a layer of protection!

Tip: Only get landlord or renter's insurance when the property is actively in use. There is no point in getting insurance when the property is not occupied.

More than 35% of homes are rented properties, making it essential to know every aspect of landlord-tenant agreements. Educate yourself thoroughly on your rights so you're aware of the steps you can take to protect yourself in a landlord-tenant relationship.

This post is for informational purposes only and does not serve as legal, financial, or tax advice. Consult your own legal, financial, or tax advisor for matters mentioned here. Steadily is not liable for any actions taken based on this information. If you believe any of this information may be inaccurate please contact us.

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