Renter’s Information Guide

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Living in one's own apartment for the first time usually is an exciting experience.

However, unexpected events like a fire, flooding or theft can quickly turn the dream into a nightmare.

Below are questions tenants should consider when dealing with problems on their rented property.


Who is responsible in case of an emergency like a fire or flooding?

It depends on what caused the incident.

“Potentially, there could be problems with the contractor; potentially there could be a problem with the owner, if there was a failure to maintain,” said Andrew Vogt of Athens Insurance, “If that is the case and the landlord is negligent, then they would be responsible.”

Many leases state the landlord will be responsible for damages on the house. If it was an accident, the costs of replacing personal belongings could fall back on the tenants.


Is it necessary to have renter’s insurance?

Generally, this is a good idea.

Some landlords require tenants to have renter’s insurance.

Many students are insured through their parents' poilicy, but refer to the policy for details on coverage.

Renter’s insurance covers damage from natural disasters or weather conditions.

Also, it could protect against lawsuits if a person were injured in the apartment.

There are differences as to how insurance would cover damaged or stolen belongings.

“Actual cash value” means the insurance will cover the costs of what the items were worth.

“Replacement cost coverage” pays you the amount of money you would need to replace your items.


What can be done to minimize the damage?

The tenant must assume all the responsibilities according to the lease signed.

Additionally, tenants should keep the house clean, test smoke detectors regularly and lock the doors and windows.

Also, renters should take videos or photos of their belongings and keep the receipts to prove the property's value.

In the event of an accident, notify the landlord.

“Generally, students should notify their landlord in writing of the problems they’re having in detail, explain what’s going on, and then the landlord should be responding to that request within a reasonable time period,” said Melissa Greenlee, Staff Attorney at the Center of Student Legal Services.

A reasonable time period in most cases is 30 days.