What Do You Mean My Landlord’s Not Responsible? New Survey Shows Tenants Don’t Understand Liability Issues

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

by Kyle Gelsthorpe

Airline tickets? Check. Credit cards? Check. Wireless charger? Check. Renters preparing for vacation have a checklist of items they don’t want to forget.

Unfortunately, many renters fail to consider a key question that should be at the top of the list: While they’re away, who is responsible in the event of burglary/theft or property damage from a fire, weather or negligence?

Turns out a lot of renters are in the dark about who bears ultimate responsibility.

According to a new survey by global risk solutions provider Assurant of 1,000 U.S. renters, nearly one-third (32 percent) believe either the landlord or property management company should be responsible for damage or liability protection, while an additional 25 percent said they were “not sure” who’s responsible.

This misunderstanding among U.S. renters is significant, especially considering that more Americans rent their homes now than at any other point in the past 50 years and the value of their possessions continues to rise.

Education is Key

It is incumbent upon apartment owners and managers, property management companies and leasing offices to spend more time not only educating renters about damage and liability protection but also helping them understand that a renter’s policy is very affordable.

Not surprisingly, of the 45 percent of respondents from the Assurant survey who said they didn’t have insurance, many cited cost as the reason. Multifamily housing professionals can boost their value and strengthen relationships by:

  • Providing specifics on the affordability of a renter’s policy. In other words, how the average annual cost is only $160 a year, which includes $10,000 in coverage for belongings and $100K for liability coverage and replacement costs.
  • Discussing how the cost of repairing damage, paying hospital bills or replacing stolen items is often much higher than the cost of protection.
  • Positioning a renter’s policy as a competitive advantage. In other words, many landlords and building owners require renters insurance, so having insurance when applying for a new apartment is beneficial.
  • Informing renters that insurance may also offer liability coverage if a guest or visitor is injured on the property and litigation ensues.

To Post or Not to Post

Another important area where renters need guidance is around how to mitigate risks while out of town.

Start by offering renters a salient piece of advice: wait to post vacation photos on social media until after they return. Among the 85 percent of Americans who post their vacation news on social media, 38 percent do so while they are away. Frankly, this is concerning because most burglaries and thefts happen while tenants are not home. Bottom line: these posts may be unintentionally sending an open invitation to thieves and other bad actors to break-in to their homes.

Compounding the problem, few renters take precautions to prevent a robbery.

Despite 41 percent of renters experiencing or knowing someone who has experienced a theft, the Assurant survey found that more than one-third (35 percent) do nothing more than lock the door to prevent it. In fact, one-quarter of respondents said they never lock up their valuables when on vacation while an additional 25 percent only do so occasionally.

Because renters are choosing the path of least resistance when it comes to protecting their property and possessions, there is an opportunity to educate them about the risks that come with renting an apartment.

It behooves apartment managers and owners, PMCs and leasing offices to work with renters to help them understand the true value of their possessions, the affordability of insurance policies and the responsibility they may bear if something goes wrong – especially while they’re away on vacation.

Kyle Gelsthorpe, Vice President of Client Relationships and Business Growth

Kyle Gelsthorpe is Vice President of Client Relationships and Business Growth at Assurant, where he is responsible for identifying new domestic and international markets, channels and growth opportunities, as well as directing teams with disciplined prospecting, analysis, negotiation, and implementation of business partnerships throughout multiple product lines.

Gelsthorpe has consistently lead his teams to profitable year-over-year, double digit growth and established strategic partnerships with apartment management companies, owners, and other aggregators of renters, to provide risk mitigation through renters insurance programs and security deposit alternatives. He joined Assurant Specialty Property as a Sales Consultant in 2005 and has since risen through the roles of Senior Sales Consultant and Executive Sales Consultant, and VP National Sales Manager of Assurant’s Multifamily Housing business unit.

Gelsthorpe earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing from Valdosta State University.

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