Can a Landlord Require Renters Insurance in New York? What You Need to Know

As a landlord in New York, you know that it’s important to protect your investment by having landlord insurance. But did you know that you can also require your tenants to have renters insurance?

In New York, it is perfectly legal to require renters insurance as a condition of the lease — and many landlords opt to do exactly that.

Why? Renters insurance is a smart way to protect both you and your tenant. Think of it like this: If landlord insurance provides you a safety net as a landlord, requiring your tenant to have renters insurance is like having two safety nets in place. In the event of a covered loss, your tenant will be protected through their own renters insurance, so you’re less likely to end up footing the bill.

For example, let’s say a tenant lights a candle and accidentally starts a fire, causing extensive damage to the kitchen walls and cabinetry in one of your units. If the tenant has renters insurance, their insurance company will cover the repair costs. This means you don’t have to use your own insurance or pay a deductible.

Here are just a few ways renters insurance benefits landlords:

  • It can help protect you from liability claims. If a tenant is injured in your rental property, their renters insurance may cover the cost of their medical expenses. This can safeguard you from potential lawsuits.
  • It can help you recover the cost of repairs if a tenant damages your property. If a tenant causes damage to your property, their renter’s insurance may cover the cost of repairs. This can save you a lot of money, especially if the extent of damage goes beyond what your policy covers.
  • It can help you avoid rent loss and evictions. Renters insurance can help tenants cover the cost of replacing their personal belongings if they are damaged or stolen. This can be a huge financial burden for your tenants, which in turn can impact your livelihood, too.
  • It can make your rental property more attractive to tenants. Requiring renters insurance shows tenants that you are serious about protecting your property and their belongings. Renters insurance can also cover common things that tenants want, like pets and guests, so you offer more lenient policies without putting yourself at risk.

In addition to the benefits to you, renters insurance is a crucial safety net for your tenants. For example, let’s say the same grease fire that damaged your unit also destroyed your tenant’s laptop and kitchen table. Your landlord insurance wouldn’t cover their personal property — but their renter’s insurance would.

Overall, there are many compelling reasons to require your tenants to carry renters insurance. It is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your investment and your tenants are protected.

Renters Insurance: What Landlords Can Enforce

To be clear, renters insurance isn’t legally required in New York — and most tenants won’t purchase renters insurance unless a landlord requires it. As a landlord in New York, you can legally enforce the following requirements for renters insurance:

  • Tenants must have renters insurance.
  • Tenants must have a minimum amount of coverage.
  • Tenants must provide proof of renters insurance before moving in.

Landlords have the right to request proof of renters insurance from tenants at any time. It’s a good idea to request proof of renters insurance when the tenant’s initial policy expires or if you suspect that the tenant no longer has insurance.

Can Landlords Evict Tenants Who Don’t Have Renters Insurance?

Yes, landlords in New York can evict tenants who don’t have renters insurance — assuming you have followed the proper legal requirements.

For details on eviction, visit the New York State Department of Housing and Community Renewal’s website. In the meantime, here are the key points you should know:

  • You must have a written lease agreement with the tenant that specifies that renters insurance is required.
  • You must give the tenant a written notice to comply with the lease agreement, which must give the tenant at least 30 days to provide proof of renters insurance.
  • If the tenant fails to provide proof of renters insurance within 30 days, you can then file an eviction lawsuit.

If you are successful in the eviction lawsuit, the court will order the tenant to vacate the rental property. The court may also order the tenant to pay your legal fees.

What Happens if Tenants Won’t Get Renters Insurance?

If a tenant refuses to get renters insurance and you either can’t or won’t evict them, you can still require them to sign a renters insurance waiver. This waiver releases you from responsibility if the tenant’s things get damaged or if the tenant damages your property — at least in theory.

However, it’s important to note that renters insurance waivers are not always enforceable. In some cases, a court may find that a waiver is unfair or unreasonable.

How Can Landlords Make It Easy for Tenants to Get Renters Insurance?

By making it simple for your tenants to get renters insurance, you can minimize issues and protect both them and your investment.

Here are a few things that landlords can do to make it easy for their tenants to get renters insurance:

  • Ensure your tenants understand the benefits of renters insurance. During the application and lease signing process, be sure to communicate your rental insurance policy. This is a good time to explain renters insurance to your tenants so they understand how it benefits them as much as it benefits you.
  • Clearly communicate rental insurance policy requirements. Document and communicate any specific policy requirements tenants need to meet to help tenants compare quotes from different insurance companies. 
  • Offer tenants resources to help them choose the right renters insurance policy. This could mean providing tenants with a list of reputable insurance companies that offer renters insurance in New York or recommending a reputable New York insurance broker like HCP.

Renters Insurance: A Crucial Safeguard for NYC Landlords and Tenants

Renters insurance is an important financial protection for both landlords and tenants. If you are a landlord in New York, we strongly recommend that you require your tenants to have renters insurance. In the event of a loss, a small investment can save you and your tenants a lot of money.

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