The benefit of renter’s insurance for college students: “Renters insurance protects all your possessions and and insures you in case someone is injured while on the your property.” 1 Renters insurance covers theft, fire, water damage, sewage back-up and national disasters as long as they were not caused by the college student’s own negligence.
Student’s possessions are not protected by the landlord’s insurance. If damage is done to the landlord’s property, the student will have to pay. Parents: If your child is a dependant covered by your home owner’s policy, she could still be considered ‘living outside your home’. Theft is not covered. Making claims on your home owners could raise rates or cause a cancellation.
Before moving in:
Make sure you have all the paperwork in order, the security deposit ready and that you understand the landlord’s rules and you can afford the rent. You need to know how long a lease is, and if you will receive a security deposit back if you leave the place like it originally was. Also make sure your roommates are in compliance with each other. Make sure the one who is insured signs the lease. Getting things in writing is the best way to go.
Take pictures of furniture, walls, ceilings, bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchen, windows, doors etc. to establish how the place looked before the student moves in. Make sure the landlord’s place has suitable human living conditions like: hot and cold running clean water, electricity under code, suitable heating, and/or air-conditioning and floors, stairways and railings in good repair. Make sure you label and date the pictures. Then mail them to yourself as proof. If the landlord tries to say that the hole in the window was always there and refuses to fix it, you will have those pictures.
A landlord had a leak in his roof when a student first leased the place and she never reported it worsening, in writing. She would be responsible for repairing and painting the landlord’s roof and any other related damages.
If the same student had taken pictures of the roof and could later prove how it had worsened, she would not be responsible for fixing the landlord’s property. If she were insured, she should get compensation for her things.
Check for vermin and report this to the landlord in writing – it’s the landlord’s responsibility to remove the pests but the tenant’s responsibility to comply with the landlord to vacate the premises for extermination (if necessary) or to make sure he keeps the place clean.
After moving in:
Take photos of all your belongings and date when they were purchased. Write down electronic model numbers. Save receipts. You can get either a cash settlement (deductible minus depreciation) or a full replacement value.
This experience of having their first lease, being responsible for money, their property and other people’s property, having to get along with roommates, understanding some facets of the law, possibly encountering unscrupulous landlords and taking steps to deal with them is a precollege education in itself.
1 The National Association of Insurance Commissioners.