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Do You Need a Home Warranty for Your Rental?

It’s a landlord’s duty, backed by the law, to provide tenants with a place that’s not only safe but “livable.” This means that it must meet specific standards of habitation (outlined by your state laws). The landlord also must ensure it stays up to those standards, which makes a home warranty seems like a good investment. This type of coverage will help ensure timely repairs and regular maintenance and simplify the process of finding contractors. It will even allow landlords to cut the cost of these services.

But neither tenants or landlords would be able to benefit from a home warranty plan if an untrustworthy company provides it. Therefore, it’s imperative to choose the policy with extreme care, and only after doing thorough research of the market.

How Home Warranty Benefits Tenants and Landlords

A home warranty plan is a type of service contract that covers the repair and maintenance of essential home systems and appliances. The coverage varies depending on the plan and provider. However, the usual rules of it are always the same.

The customer pays a yearly premium of about $400-600, and should any of the covered items break down; they contact the warranty provider. The latter will dispatch a contractor to fix the issue and cover the repair costs up to the maximum coverage limit outlined in the contract.

The main benefits of such service for landlords and tenants include:

  • The home warranty company deals with all contractors. Therefore, you only need to make a single call to get any kind of repair specialist sent to you fast.
  • The cost of repairs or preventative maintenance is reduced.
  • Contractors should be dispatched fast so the tenants won’t be inconvenienced.
  • The actual homeowner’s (landlord’s) involvement in the repair process is minimal.

If it works as it should, a good home warranty plan is a great stress reliever for both landlords and tenants. In many cases, one is able to personalize the plan quite a bit. It might be possible to provide the tenants with a direct link to the home warranty company. This means the people actually living in the building would be able to contact them and thus receive the necessary service faster.

The home warranty industry in the US is positively booming. It’s valued at over $2 billion today and growing fast. As the demand for the service increases, so does the number of companies that offer it. Today you can even find renowned and trusted brands offering this kind of service, like the Sears Home Warranty program. Purchasing a policy from this type of provider might be safer as top corporations built their reputations over the years of offering high-quality services in every field. A scandal connected to fraud might be quite lethal for them. Therefore, the risk of getting scammed by this home warranty provider is much lower.

Sadly, that kind of risk is very real, as you can see from the case of Secure Home Warranty, which scammed about 160 customers and rapidly went out of business after getting their money.

Leading home warranty providers in the US include:

  • American Home Shield (AHS)
  • Select
  • First American
  • Old Republic
  • 2-10
  • Fidelity
  • Amazon
  • Choice
  • Total Home Protection
  • Landmark

But do keep in mind that being among the biggest names on the market doesn’t mean much in this industry. The top ten companies own over 80% of it, but names like Sears are much more well-known and trustworthy. Therefore, choosing a provider with a small presence in the home warranty industry might be a better choice in the long run. The most important thing is the company’s trustworthiness.

Can You Trust Home Warranty Providers?

As you can see from the case currently raging in Arizona, where charges of fraud were brought against Choice Home Warranty, these services can be a waste of money. Unfortunately, even the biggest names in the industry, like AHS, were involved in shady dealings.

The most common issues that people face when working with such companies are:

  • Claim denials.
  •  Of course, the refusal to pay for repairs is the biggest problem you’ll get from a home warranty company. Providers use multiple excuses to avoid this responsibility, like obscure points and tricky wording in the contract’s terms and conditions. It’s also common to refuse payments based on “pre-existing condition.” This is the reason why home warranties for old properties and appliances are not worth the money.
  • Slow service.
  •  If you have an AC break down in the middle of a heatwave, having it repaired fast is not merely a matter of comfort. It’s imperative to your health. Therefore, having a home warranty provider that won’t send contractors for a week is a huge problem.
  • Poorly qualified contractors.
  •  You don’t get to choose exactly who will be repairing your appliances or systems when dealing with a home warranty. Therefore, the quality of repairs might be low, and the rates unreasonably high.

For a landlord, all these issues do not only cause frustrations and loss of money, especially when the claim is denied. The biggest threat is that they will lose tenants, who are unsatisfied with the quality of living and speed of repairs provided.

Should Landlords Invest in Home Warranty Coverage?

Landlords can save a great deal of stress and some money by buying home warranty coverage for their rental property. They might even make tenant the primary contact for this contract. This not only allows the landlord to avoid even more stress, but this also gives the tenant more power over their quality of life.

However, one needs to remember that the home warranty industry is poorly-regulated. This means that you need to check the laws and guidelines for this service in your state. They determine if it’s legal to buy a home warranty plan in the tenant’s name.

Moreover, this lack of regulation also means less control over the fairness of this service. Many home warranty providers are untrustworthy, and even top names in the industry have been accused of fraud. Therefore, it’s essential to research the provider before signing the contract. Buying protection from an unreliable company will be a waste of money and can potentially cause more problems both for tenants and landlords.

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