Morris RHC News Blog

News & Updates from the Morris Rental Housing Commission

Renters Insurance


Why would a tenant need insurance? Let me count the ways!

  1. The landlord’s insurance doesn’t cover any of your belongings if they are damages from water leaks, fires, any other disaster or mishap.
  2. You may need something to cover damages if you cause an accident.
  3. It is possible that a guest could injure themselves in your home and ask for health care expenses to be covered.
  4. If your belongings are stolen, you would have some coverage to replace them.
  5. The average cost is between $100 and $180 per year. That’s cheap if you think about replacing one laptop, not to mention a bed, couch, clothes, TV’s etc.

Shouldn’t the landlord pay for insurance? They do!!! It covers their own belongings, equipment and the building itself. If you cause a fire, their insurance may actually sue you for the cost of damages.

In a recent US News article, Nicole Schreck says, “You can’t afford to skip renters insurance” and she is right. Read her article and go get some insurance!

The Best Protection

Landlords and tenants alike could save themselves all sorts of hassle if they would just complete an inspection before all the furniture and boxes are moved into the rental.  I can’t tell you how many phone calls I get from tenants who are not getting their security deposit back.  Why?  Because the landlord is telling them there are damages for which they are responsible.  On many occasions, the tenant claims the damages were there already.  I ask if there was an inspection, did they list those damages when they moved in?  The answer is almost always, NO.

On the flip side, landlords get into battles with tenants who won’t pay for damages that aren’t covered by the security deposit.  Again, the question is, “Was an inspection done at move in?”  The answer again is NO.  Landlords sometimes have an advantage in this case, but they may have to go to court to get payment.

Doing an inspection before a tenant moves in may take a few minutes but will surely save you many more in the end.  Landlords can point out the good condition of their rental and at the same time remind tenants that they will be held responsible for damages.  Tenants can point out any defects already present and prevent being charged later.  Either way, its a win-win.  When the tenant moves out, the landlord can take that same inspection sheet over and go through the property with the tenant.  It’s hard to argue about damages that are (or are not) listed on an inspection form you signed at move in.

Save yourselves the headache!  Do a MOVE-IN INSPECTION.



For several years I have used a video from the State Fire Marshall’s Office for evacuation training at GrandView. It was a film showing the progress of a fire in a single family home that had been started by a cigarette butt in a trash can. It was stunning to watch how quickly the smoke spread throughout the house, in less than five minutes it would have been very difficult to get down the stairs and out the door. In addition to the smoke, the temperature in the house was several hundred degrees. I used that video to make a point ~ the smoke will kill you!

Even a fairly small fire can get out of hand quickly, so time is of the essence. Thus the reason for smoke detectors. Smoke detectors are one of the most affordable ways to protect property and tenants in rental units. Make sure they are located INSIDE each bedroom and then install one on each level as well. Don’t forget the basement. Read the manufacturer’s recommendations and pay attention to their advice, especially with smoke detectors around the kitchen. Detectors that are on the wall adjacent to a stove will drive everyone crazy, next thing you know it is removed and disabled.

Check the batteries every six months, then you can also make sure that they aren’t being removed or disabled. Some landlords have added statements to their lease warning tenants that disabling a smoke detector may be grounds for eviction. It may prevent the often heard complaint, “the tenants take the batteries our every time I turn around!” Detectors also have a limited useful life, there are expiration dates on the back of smoke detectors now so that they can be replaced every 5 years. If your smoke detectors don’t have a date printed on the back, they are more than 5 years old and need to be replaced.

CO detectors are another essential piece of equipment to protect tenants and landlords from an unnecessary tragedy. They should be located within 10 feet of each “room used for sleeping purposes”. Check out this website to get more details from the State Fire Marshal: