Got renter's or condo unit insurance?

I’m constantly amazed at how many people don’t get renter’s insurance when they are renting a house or apartment. Did you realize that if a major catastrophe happens to the property you’re renting that the landlord is not responsible for your belongings?  You should.

Renter’s insurance is relatively inexpensive for the peace of mind that it will give you. Not only are you covered if a major issue happens to the property and damages your belongings, you can also check to see if the policy will cover you in the event of a break-in. Most people don’t consider the fact that a water heater might blow out and cause flooding to the interior of a property. This event could damage clothing, furniture, or more. The landlord will likely be responsible for fixing or replacing the water heater but they won’t be responsible for your stuff.

A while back we were representing a buyer on the purchase of a 20-unit apartment complex. There were 2 buildings with 10 units each. For some bizarre reason the seller decided to replace the roofs mid-contract. Unfortunately for her it rained right at the time the new roofs went on and 4 units were ruined and more were damaged – along with the tenant’s belongings. Thus began a nasty fight between her and the tenants – several moved out, resulting in lost rents, and others started attempting to boycott the property and prevent others from moving in to replace those that chose to move.

The majority of these tenants did not have renter’s insurance. More landlords are getting savvy and are adding provisions to their lease agreements that spell out a requirement for renters to show proof of insurance within a short period of time of moving in. My own lease agreements have similar language and it states very clearly that I’m not responsible for their stuff if something happens. Nature can impact a property at any time – I had this happen when a neighbor’s tree smashed into my duplex roof a couple of years ago. Thankfully my tenant’s didn’t get impacted but they could have since the tree punctured holes in the roof. Thankfully we got the roof repaired pretty quickly so no major damage occurred but it could have been ugly.

New condominium buildings are also requiring owners and tenants to have contents insurance. For owners of these units the requirement is that the policy cover up to the deductible of the homeowner’s association policy. Frequently that amount is roughly $50,000.00.  These are good things to know. Many of the condo sales require proof of insurance at closing so be sure to contact an insurance company prior to the end of your transaction if you’re in the process of buying. One guy I know that can handle this for you is Gerald Grinter of Gerald Grinter Insurance.  He can handle policies for condo owners and renters.

No Credits "For Repairs" Allowed

This excerpt from a recent comment to an old article of mine, deserves more than “comment back” attention.

“we said we would take $5,000 for…repairs…The addendum was signed by both seller and buyer….Our lender wanted us to take the word repairs out of the contact, but we wouldn’t do it, so our loan fell through…’

Lenders do not want to lend out money for future repairs to a home, nor do they want to finance properties that need repairs. Let’s say a house needs a new roof and the cost of that roof is $7,500. Agents cannot write a contract with an addendum that says “Seller to credit Buyer $7,500 for a new roof” and expect the sale to close. Nor can the lender simply say “remove that addendum”, as if the buyer is supposed to pay the same price without a new roof or the money to buy a new roof.

Clearly this situation has come up several times in my career. Most recently, the roof was OK, but was two layers of composite over a wood shake roof, meaning at time of replacement all three layers would have to come off. Also, since wood shake roofs do not have sheathing, the new roof would have to include all new components and not just new shingles. The owner agreed to “pay” for most of the new roof and the buyer “agreed to pay” for a portion of the new roof. The new roof was installed by the seller prior to closing, and the sale price was increased to include the buyer’s share of the roof cost. Excellent resolution as the lender financed a house with a brand new roof. Everyone is happy.

Another good and often used solution, if the buyer wants to take a credit and pick and install their own roof, is for the buyer to take a credit “toward closing costs”, They simply use the money they were going to use to pay closing costs, to put on a new roof. It’s just a replacement of these monies for those monies. It satisfies the lender, as they will usually allow a credit toward closing costs, but not for repairs. As long as the appraiser doesn’t “call” the roof and require it to be done before closing, the buyer can get the monies this way.

So is Denise “bad” to refuse to take the word “repairs” out of the addendum? Or are the agents (if there were in fact agents involved) “bad” for writing and accepting an addendum in the first place, that they should have known would cause the loan to fail?

It is no surprise to me that a lender would not fund a loan that included a $5,000 credit “for repairs”. It is worth noting here, so that others do not write or accept addendums that offer credits for repairs, that send up red flags to the lender that the house is not in good condition. Perhaps it was a For Sale By Owner that Denise purchased without the assistance of agents. So to For Sale by Owners and private individuals buying from For Sale by Owners. and attorneys who assist in transactions without agent involvement, please note that generally speaking, a lender will not fund a loan with a repair credit, especially if there is little or no downpayment.