The rental market in Calgary has made many headlines recently, as residents struggle to keep up with skyrocketing rates and very little availability. A recent Global News article tells the story of tenants having to compete against 50 or 60 others for a single unit and even having to relocate outside of the city in order to find an affordable place to live.
Numbers from Rentals.ca show that the average rent for a one-bedroom condo or apartment in Calgary this past July was $1,687 — up 3.4 per cent month-over-month and 12.7 per cent year-over-year. An average two-bedroom, again in July, rang in at $2,086. That is a rate hike of 3.3 per cent month-over-month and 14.5 per cent year-over-year.
It’s a very difficult situation that has led many to make decisions they perhaps wouldn’t have seen themselves making a short time ago. Shared housing is an option that may not be ideal, but can at least provide a roof overhead, comfort, and security. And maybe even additional people to split food bills with. Having roommates can be extremely beneficial to all parties involved, however you still need to make sure you are protecting yourself against unforeseen and unexpected circumstances with good tenant insurance.
Main components of tenant insurance
The good news is that tenant insurance is very affordable. It’s even more so if you work with insurance brokers such as us at Lane’s. We are highly trained experts in the insurance world with many years of experience under our belts. It is our job to shop around to find the best policy at the lowest rates for our clients, and because we are able to cross-compare policies from the providers we work with we have a greater range of products to choose from.
Generally speaking, tenant insurance has three main components:
- Coverage for your contents: If someone were to break in and steal your possessions, or if there is a flood or fire in your building, content insurance covers the cost of replacing the items. We highly recommend replacement cost insurance rather actual cash value coverage. Your coverage extends beyond just where you live, too. If your bike were to be stolen outside the grocery store, tenant insurance will help with its replacement cost. Make sure you know your special limits, however, as they can often be low for items such as jewellery and sports equipment.
- Personal liability coverage: If someone were to injure themselves at your house accidentally, say by slipping and falling, liability coverage helps cover the costs associated with lawsuits and rehabilitation.
- Reimbursement for living expenses: If your house or apartment is affected by fire or another insured peril and you can’t live there for a while, this aspect of tenant insurance helps provide for temporary accommodation and transportation.
You’ll also want to make sure you are covered for water damage through your policy. It is not uncommon for there to be plumbing and appliance issues in multi-unit buildings, such as a dishwasher exploding or a pipe leaking into the apartment below, so water damage coverage is extremely important for renters.
Who needs coverage
When you have roommates, each person in the home needs to be named on the lease and each person should have their own tenant insurance coverage. This ensures that if someone is injured on your property or if there is an accidental fire, no single person will be held liable.
What to do with a nightmare roommate
The best way to deal with a nightmare roommate is to not end up with one in the first place. Experts recommend designing a comprehensive roommate agreement that everyone signs and that outlines penalties for not following the guidelines. The best thing about a roommate agreement is that it will work to scare off ne’er-do-wells right at the outset, as it will be clear that there are rules and there will be consequences for not following them. Responsible people will not mind and will appreciate the transparency and protection a roommate agreement provides.
Some things to include in a roommate agreement are:
- When rent is expected to be paid
- How utilities, television, and wifi will be split up
- Rules for things such as smoking, quiet hours, guests, and food in the refrigerator (and liquor in the cabinet)
- How the place will be kept clean and the yard maintained
- How infractions may lead to a roommate being ejected from the household
What to do with a nightmare landlord
Renters are often unaware that they have many rights when it comes to their housing. Unfortunately, as the rental market gets more and more tight, we have heard disappointing stories of landlords doing anything they can to get rid of their current tenants in order to find new ones who they can charge more (or, of course, who simply jack up the rental rate to unaffordable levels). If you are good tenants, pay your rent on time, take care of the property, and are not disruptive or unsafe, you are protected through Alberta’s Residential Tenancies Act. Monthly tenants must be provided three full months of notice by landlords who want to evict, and tenants must provide one full month of notice before leaving. Yearly tenancies require 60 days of notice by the tenant and the landlord must provide 90 days of notice.
Trust Lane’s Insurance for the best coverage at great rates
Lane’s Insurance has staked out a well-deserved reputation for service excellence, offering flexible and varied coverage options at highly competitive rates with value-added service and outstanding claims support. As long as Lane’s is your insurance brokerage, you’ll know your broker, and more importantly, we’ll know you. Contact us at our Calgary, Edmonton, Banff or greater Alberta offices to see what we can do for you.