Insurance may cover vandalism

Mailbag

July 05, 1998

A few weeks ago I addressed the concerns of landlord who sustained damage to her property from a tenant. The suggestions made to her -- and other landlords -- for future reference were to carefully check a prospective tenant's references and credit history, as well as to require a reasonable security deposit for protection.

Well, the mailbag received a scolding from Charles Linkowich, who suggested that investigating tenants offers no guarantee that it will prevent a rental unit from being "destroyed" by them. Linkowich also made mention of landlord's insurance and the possibility of taking a tenant to small claims court for damages if no insurance is available, and that "a security deposit is not the answer."

Thank you for your suggestion about landlord's insurance. This type of insurance makes coverage available for "vandalism." The policy excludes damage due to ordinary wear and tear and, therefore, may not cover all damages caused by a tenant.

Some landlord's insurance policies contain an exclusion for vandalism by a tenant, or only cover these damages if an extra premium is paid to endorse coverage for tenant's vandalism. Check carefully to make sure you obtain full coverage.

It was also pointed out that a landlord can sue a tenant in small claims court for damages the tenant causes to the rented property. Yes, of course, a landlord can sue. But even if a judgment is obtained, collection can be difficult, time consuming and often unsuccessful.

It is a lot easier to collect from a security deposit than through small claims court.

I still think a security deposit provides good protection for a landlord.

Questions?

The Sun invites you to send real estate questions to Mailbag. Questions will be answered by Jonathan A. Azrael, principal at Azrael, Gann and Franz, a Towson firm with a concentration in real estate law.

Questions can be sent in the following ways:

Mailing address: Real Estate Mailbag, Fifth Floor, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md., 21278-0001. Fax: 410-783-2517. E-mail: real.estataltsun.com

Our Sundial audio-response number: 410-783-1800. Enter code 6170 after the greeting.

Pub Date: 7/05/98

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