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Renters Insurance Checklist

Before signing a lease check out our checklist

Renting a property is a big deal. This is the place you’re going to live and you want to make sure it’s home sweet home and not a home from hell. That’s why we’ve put together a checklist that will help you make sure there are no unpleasant surprises in store.

Broadly speaking our checklist falls into two categories. The first being your lease and the rights and responsibilities of you and your landlord. The second is the actual property itself, its condition and fittings and fixtures.

If you’re satisfied with both areas then there’s a much better chance you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy your new home.

The lease

The lease is a legally binding agreement between you and the landlord – so it’s vital you have a copy and read it thoroughly before you sign anything! It outlines lots of important information that you need to check you’re happy with, including:

  • How much is the security deposit amount you must pay up front.
  • The specific conditions in which the landlord deducts cash from your deposit (example: Late or missed rent? Stains on the carpet? Chips in the walls?).
  • The explicit timing and method of the return of any deposit to you.
  • The monthly rent, when it needs to be paid and how it needs to be paid (money order, credit card or personal check, for example) plus any grace periods and charges for bounced checks or late payments.
  • What the landlord is responsible for regarding maintenance.
  • How quickly the landlord must respond to service requests – especially important for situations like the air conditioning puttering out during summer.
  • How long your tenancy will last and how much notice you have to give if you decide to leave.
  • Use and costs of any amenities not covered in the lease – such as laundry facilities.
  • Any property rules - like the policy for having long-term guests.
  • Clauses about "shared" utilities, which leave you liable for power and services used by other tenants or even the landlord. It’s better to make sure all utilities are in your name for your property or are included in the rent.
  • Other maintenance issues like clearing snow or mowing the lawn – and who is responsible for both, doing it and providing and maintaining the relevant equipment.

If you’re worried about any of these points, raise them at the start – and if the landlord won’t amend the lease – you should carefully consider the implications and whether you want to go ahead.

It’s also worthwhile asking your landlord about his insurance. This probably covers the property itself and not your personal possessions. Of course, we want you to be happy in your new home, but fire, vandalism and theft do happen – and your stuff, whether it’s clothes, furniture, TVs or sound systems, could all be at risk. You can find out about protecting your possessions for less than $1 a day* with Protect Your Bubble here.

The property itself

First and foremost you want to check the property is the right size for your needs and in the right location. With that done, it’s really important that you carefully examine the interior and exterior of the property before you move and inform the landlord of any issues. That way they don’t become your issues, or at least you’re prepared for them:

The exterior

  • Exterior siding: Check for damage, chipped paint and generally make sure it’s in a good state of repair.
  • Rain gutters: Once again check they’re not clogged and are in good working order.
  • Roofing Leaky: roofs can lead to damage to your personal property and be bad for your health. So, if you can do it safely, check the roof or get the landlord to confirm it’s in good order.
  • Foundations: If you’re renting a house, walk around the house and check the foundations. Cracks, holes and gaps can indicate structural problems and also let in rain, bugs and rodents.
  • Doors and windows: Check they can all be opened, closed and secured properly.
  • Take pictures of any damage prior to the lease effective date.

Garage and driveway

  • The garage: Is the door working properly? Can you lock and secure it? Check that all entrances can be locked and secured.
  • The driveway: Check the driveway for cracks.

Landscaping

  • The Lawn maintenance: If it says in the lease it’s your responsibility, can you handle it or will you need a lawn care company to help?
  • Drainage: If water can’t drain off your property properly it can undermine the foundations and also cause problems such as waterlogging the lawn and acting as a breeding ground for bugs and mosquitoes.

The interior

  • Ceilings: Check for water damage which could indicate a problem with the plumbing and leave ceilings weakened.
  • Walls, windows and doors: First off, make sure there aren’t big gaps around the doors and windows that will let in cold and drive up heating costs. Make sure doors close properly.  If they don’t, this may indicate structural problems.
  • Electrical: Do the lights work? Are outlets firmly connected within walls and do the covers show burn marks? If it’s not right, don’t take a risk in moving in.
  • Bathrooms: Look for water damage to floors and baseboards and make sure the water flows properly through the faucets and toilets.
  • Take pictures of any damage prior to the lease effective date.

Utilities

  • Heating and cooling: Check that all systems, including the thermostats, are working and determine who is responsible for changing the filters.
  • Phone connections: Are the phone connections working? Don’t be fooled because there is no landline phone there – take your own if necessary to try it out.
  • Cell connectivity: Our cell phones are an essential part of life these days – and if you can’t get a good signal in your new home it can be a real problem.

It sounds like a lot to get sorted – but moving into a new property is an important decision. And while we can’t guarantee a problem-free tenancy, using this checklist can help put your mind at ease.

Of course, when you move in you’ll be bringing all your possessions too – like TVs, stereos, cameras and much more. Remember, these probably won’t be covered by your landlord’s insurance, so getting your own insurance makes sound sense.

Here at Protect Your Bubble we know that moving is already a big drain on your finances, with security deposits, rent and maybe even van hire to be paid for. That’s why we offer excellent coverage for your personal possessions for less than a $1 a day.

Find out more about protecting your rental property for less than a dollar a day* here.

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All insurance products are offered by The Signal, L.P. The Signal, L.P. is a licensed Insurance agency appointed by American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida and American Security Insurance Company. American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida and American Security Insurance Company are Assurant, Inc. companies licensed to offer insurance products. Protect Your Bubble, the Protect Your Bubble logo, Bubble and Squeak and other Protect Your Bubble trademarks, service marks, graphics and logos used in connection with this website are trademarks of Assurant, Inc. in the United States.