landlord vs. home insurance: what’s the difference?

Crossing the line from homeowner to landlord can happen faster than you'd think. Depending on how you use your property, regular homeowners insurance might not provide the protection you're looking for. Even though Esurance doesn't offer landlord insurance, we can still help you figure out when it could be a better fit for you.

choosing the right coverage for your home

Sorting out the homeowners vs. landlord insurance question depends a lot on your unique situation.

If you and your family live in the house but rent out a small section, such as a spare bedroom or attic space, regular homeowners insurance could very well be enough. Same goes if you accept an occasional short-term tenant for special events, such as conventions. The key is that there's a limited number of renters at any given time and that your home doesn't become a permanent rental property.

If you do plan on renting out a small section of your house, consider the benefits of having Esurance homeowners insurance. A standard policy includes fair rental income protection, which helps reimburse you for rent money you lose due to a covered loss such as a fire.

The role of landlord insurance

If you're moving out of your house but keeping it to be a full-time rental space, or buying a separate pad altogether for the same purpose, you'll likely need to buy landlord insurance.

By assuming the role of landlord, you open yourself up to a range of possible liability issues, especially regarding injuries to tenants or their guests, which a homeowners insurance policy likely won't cover.

If you're held responsible for others' medical expenses or ever taken to court over property damage or injuries, landlord insurance is the best option for safeguarding your hard-earned savings.

how accommodating: helpful tips for renting out your space

Whether you're opening your home to a tenant for the first time or simply want help licking those stressful landlord moments before they happen, here are some pointers to consider.

Nail the safety details

Make sure the rental area has its own smoke detector (or multiple if there's more than one room), fire extinguisher, and safely operating appliances.

Get to know potential tenants (at least a little)

Some landlords don't see faces, only credit scores. Don't be one of them.

While a prospective renter's financial security is an important factor, it's not the only one. Make a point of meeting applicants (if you can) to get a sense of their lifestyle and responsibility level. You'll have more peace of mind than just knowing the rent will be on time.

Inspect and clean the home before tenants move in

Taking care of any leaks, deep-cleaning carpets, and making other hospitable gestures could help you avoid complaints or even liability issues later on. Moreover, it just might inspire your tenants to treat the home with the same respect.

Get a lease

A handshake may sound like the simplest way to strike a deal, but trust us — you want a hard legal document. If you're not using a professional property management company, you can usually print basic rental papers through your state's government site.

Brush up on tenant rights

Who's in charge of replacing light bulbs and general wear and tear? Are you allowed to raise the rent? How does eviction work?

These sorts of key issues depend on the unique tenant rights in your area, so do your homework ahead of time to sidestep confusion down the road.

let your insurer know of your home rental plans

Don't forget the important step of alerting your insurer (as well as your mortgage company ) if you're renting out your house (or even just a room).

Although Esurance doesn't offer full-time landlord insurance, our agents are happy to answer any questions about your existing homeowners insurance policy. Give us a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). We're here to help at these times.

Bundle home and auto insurance to save
If you already have Esurance car insurance, adding a homeowners policy could mean an easy discount.

12 questions to ask your landlord
On the other side of the renting coin? Here's what to ask your landlord before signing your lease to ensure smooth sailing.

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