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9 unexpected costs landlords often don’t see coming

By Emma Smith

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We’ve heard about tenant damage before but what can landlords actually claim on insurance and how strange can it get?

If you suddenly discover your investment property has turned into a den of your worst fears, you’ll need a game plan to get things back on track.

If you’re not sure what to account for when planning for the worst, here are a few unlucky issues landlords deal with, and some ideas on available solutions.

What happened to the rent?

Sometimes you have a tenant who just… disappears. Perhaps they’ve stopped paying rent, done a runner or, in the worst-case scenario, passed away.

While you should get the debt collectors onto anyone wilfully evading their rental payments, you can also chat to your insurance team to claim some of those lost payments.

The tenant leaves… but their stuff doesn’t

What do you do when a tenant leaves their stuff? Picture: Kate Hunter

If your tenant suddenly vacates but all their stuff remains behind, you may need a hand – both physically and financially – to move the furniture.

“It’s often the case that people will leave behind old couches and things that become your responsibility to dispose of,” Simon Hasell from RACV Landlord Insurance explains. “So [RACV Landlord Insurance] covers many costs associated with those types of things*.”

Your tenants are running a drug lab

No, you haven’t just been watching too much Breaking Bad – this can actually happen! And if it does, you’re in for a hell of a logistical nightmare.

“If there’s any technical cleaning or removal that needs to happen that can be quite expensive,” Simon says. This isn’t to mention the potential for other damage.

It doesn’t have to be a drug lab per se, but check if your policy covers damage related to the manufacturing, storage or distribution of illegal drugs^.

Someone passes away

Nobody wants to think about this, but in the event of a death, there are a few things you may need to consider. Firstly, it might be a while between tenants or payments, and if this is a problem for you, you should check if your policy covers rental default.

Also, if the circumstances of the incident are linked to your property you should check that your landlord insurance policy has liability cover. Finally, some insurers will cover cleaning up after a death or accident.

The dog ate my… carpet?

Pets playing with toys is fine, but it’s when they play with your property. Picture: Kate Hunter

Dogs and cats can cause all kinds of accidental damage, and as regulations regarding pets on rental premises continue to relax, you’ll need to make sure your property is protected.

“Pet damage is a going to be big one,” Simon confesses. “It’s going to become harder for landlords to refuse their tenants having pets, so it’s definitely going to be a more important feature of your insurance policy**.”

When your friends bring their pets over

Speaking of pets, if your tenants’ friends bring over a pet that causes damage, you can be stuck in a bind! Interestingly, the ‘animal damage’ section of RACV’s Landlord Insurance policy refers to loss or damage caused by an animal not kept on the site**.

Help, I’ve been robbed!

Thefts and break-ins are covered in most contents insurance policies.  Picture: Kate Hunter

Break and enter thefts will be covered under most contents policies, but sometimes it can be harder to account for items stolen by people within the property. Be sure to check if you’re covered in the instance your tenant takes your furniture, appliances, or even doors from the home~.

Black mould attack

Mould can be a serious issue and, if it infects your rental property, you as the landlord are responsible. While you can’t typically insure for mould issues, there are exceptions.

“This isn’t something RACV Landlord Insurance would normally cover as it can be due to poor maintenance, or something that builds up over time,” Simon explains. “However, if it’s mould following a flood event, that’s something that would be covered.”

The elements strike

Storm damage can usually be repaired, and could be covered in your insurance policy. Picture: Getty

Fires and floods are always a surprise. Nobody expects their property to be ravaged by flames or water, but there’s no denying it can be costly when it happens.

Ray White Drysdale strongly recommends that you ensure that you are adequately covered by Landlord Insurance.

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