LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Rixon Charles Rafter III | Aug 28, 2011

Renter's Insurance Requirements Under Virginia's Residential Landlord Tenant Act

The Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act (Va.Code § 55-248.7:2.) addresses renters insurance requirements for tenants and options for landlords. The Act says:

“A. Damage Insurance. A landlord may require as a condition of tenancy that a tenant

have commercial insurance coverage as specified in the rental agreement to secure the

performance by the tenant of the terms and conditions of the rental agreement and pay for the cost of premiums for such insurance coverage, obtained by the landlord, generally known as "damage insurance." As provided in § 55-248.4, such payments shall not be deemed a security deposit, but shall be rent. However, as provided in § 55-248.9, the landlord cannot require a tenant to pay both security deposits and the cost of damage insurance premiums, if the total amount of any security deposits and damage insurance premiums exceeds the amount of two months' periodic rent. The landlord shall notify a tenant in writing that the tenant has the right to obtain a separate policy from the landlord's policy for damage insurance. If a tenant elects to obtain a separate policy, the tenant shall submit to the landlord written proof of such coverage and shall maintain such coverage at all times during the term of the rental agreement. Where a landlord obtains damage insurance coverage on behalf of a tenant, the insurance policy shall provide coverage for the tenant as an insured. The landlord shall recover from the tenant the actual costs of such insurance coverage and may recover administrative or other fees associated with administration of a damage insurance policy, including a tenant opting out of the insurance coverage provided by the landlord pursuant to this subsection. If a landlord obtains damage insurance for his tenants, the landlord shall provide to each tenant, prior to execution of the rental agreement, a summary of the insurance policy or certificate evidencing the coverage being provided and upon request of the tenant make available a copy of the insurance policy.

B. Renter's Insurance. A landlord may require as a condition of tenancy that a tenant have renter’s insurance as specified in the rental agreement that is a combination multi-peril policy containing fire, miscellaneous property, and personal liability coverage insuring personal property located in residential units not occupied by the owner. A landlord may require a tenant to pay for the cost of premiums for such insurance, obtained by the landlord, to provide such coverage for the tenant as part of rent or as otherwise provided herein." As provided in § 55-248.4, such payments shall not be deemed a security deposit, but shall be rent. If the landlord requires that such premiums be paid prior to the commencement of the tenancy, the total amount of all security deposits and insurance premiums for damage insurance and renter's insurance shall not exceed the amount of two months' periodic rent. Otherwise, the landlord may add a monthly amount as additional rent to recover the costs of such insurance coverage. The landlord shall notify a tenant in writing that the tenant has the right to obtain a separate policy from the landlord's policy for renter's insurance. If a tenant elects to obtain a separate policy, the tenant shall submit to the landlord written proof of such coverage and shall maintain such coverage at all times during the term of the rental agreement.

C. Where a landlord obtains renter’s insurance coverage on behalf of a tenant, the

insurance policy shall provide coverage for the tenant as an insured. The landlord shall

recover from the tenant the actual costs of such insurance coverage and may recover

administrative or other fees associated with the administration of a renter's insurance

policy, including a tenant opting out of the insurance coverage provided to the tenant

pursuant to this subsection. If a landlord obtains renter’s insurance for his tenants, the

landlord shall provide to each tenant, prior to execution of the rental agreement, a

summary of the insurance policy prepared by the insurer or certificate evidencing the

coverage being provided and upon request of the tenant make available a copy of the

insurance policy.

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