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Should You Get a Home Warranty for Rental Property?

Patrick Sather
Should You Buy a Home Warranty for a Rental Property?
Investing in rental properties can be a lucrative endeavor, but it’s not without its complications. The maintenance of a single residence can be overwhelming enough. If you own multiple properties, regularly servicing all the appliances and systems can be a full-time job.

And considering the law of averages, owning multiple properties increases your chances of needing to repair or replace an expensive appliance, especially if tenants are using those appliances regularly.

Buying a home warranty for a rental property is one way to better manage your maintenance responsibilities and protect yourself financially when an appliance or home system component needs to be repaired or replaced.

What Is a Home Warranty?

The term “warranty” is something of a misnomer. More precisely, a home warranty is a service contract with a third-party provider. It allows a property owner to service, fix, and replace equipment around the home at an affordable cost. It’s most common for a homeowner to purchase a warranty for a primary residence, but warranty providers also offer home warranties for rental properties.

Home warranties can cover kitchen appliances, laundry machines, water heaters, plumbing, electrical systems, HVAC—virtually anything within a home. With an active policy, a homeowner can submit a claim when a covered appliance or system requires service or develops a problem due to normal wear and tear. The warranty provider will send a licensed and insured technician to resolve the issue. It’s as easy as that.

There are 2 main costs associated with a typical home warranty: a premium and a service fee. The premium is a set expense that the policyholder pays each month or year, just as one would for an insurance policy. While prices vary by company and extent of coverage, the average premium is between $300 and $600 per year. The service fee is a one-time payment whenever the policyholder submits a claim. The average service fee is in the $75 to $150 range.

Benefits of a Rental Property Home Warranty

The primary benefit of a home warranty for a rental property is savings. If a refrigerator in a rental unit suddenly ceases to function, the property owner is protected from having to pay for a technician to install a new $400 compressor. Across multiple units, those appliance repair costs add up quickly. A home warranty simplifies a property owner’s budget and ensures lower expenses over time.

Another important benefit, however, is convenience. Because home warranty providers maintain networks of professional technicians, the property owner is spared the responsibility of hiring a repair person or personally servicing a piece of equipment. Warranty providers also often provide resources to make it easier to keep track of service and maintenance schedules.

How Much Does an Insurance Plan for Your Rental Unit Cost?

Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover rental properties. If your policy does not cover rental properties, then you may need to purchase landlord coverage or shop around for a provider that includes rental coverage in its plan. A typical insurance plan for a rental property provides coverage for the property’s physical structure, the landlord’s personal property, liability if someone is injured on the property, and loss-of-rent in the event of extreme damage. If tenants wish to insure their personal belongings, they may choose to purchase renters insurance, which is similar to a homeowner’s insurance policy but for renters. 

On average, landlord insurance for rental properties costs more than standard homeowner’s insurance. As a landlord, you can expect to pay about 15% more for rental insurance compared to homeowner’s insurance. With the national average for a homeowner’s policy costing around $1,288, that means that landlord insurance for your rental property would cost around $1,481 per year. That said, costs can vary depending on the provider, property type and size, the state you live in, and your credit history and income. Plus, if you want additional coverage, such as flood, fire, emergency, or guaranteed income insurance, the cost can be higher. 

How Do Home Warranties for Your Rental Properties Work?

A home warranty for a rental property works similarly to the kind of warranty you’d purchase for your own home. When you buy a home warranty for a rental property, you agree to pay a monthly or annual premium for coverage of certain systems and appliances. If a covered item fails due to normal wear and tear, the home warranty company agrees to send a service technician to repair the broken item in exchange for a flat service fee, which is due at the time of repair. In the event an item cannot be repaired, the home warranty company will replace the item with one of equal value or pay you cash to replace the item yourself. 

Depending on the plan you purchase, you may get coverage for appliances, systems, or both. Also, you may be able to purchase additional coverage for appliances and systems such as pools and spas, well pumps, sump pumps, and sprinklers. Most home warranty companies limit the amount you can submit on a claim per appliance or system. Furthermore, they may also restrict the amount they will pay out in total over the full term of the policy. There might also be additional restrictions, especially if the covered property is a multi-family residence. Always review a company's sample service agreement prior to making a purchase to ensure you're getting the level of coverage you need.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Home Warranty

Property owners have many options when it comes to purchasing a home warranty. There are several companies in the home warranty space, and plans can vary significantly. There are some important things to bear in mind as you shop for the best plan.

  • Evaluate your needs. Take stock of the appliances and systems in your properties. Don’t purchase coverage you don’t need. If your rental properties don’t have in-unit washers and dryers, it may not make sense to purchase a bundled appliance plan that includes coverage for those machines. Make a list of the equipment you do own and have it ready when you start reaching out to home warranty providers.
  • Check for existing warranties. Some of your appliances may already have warranty coverage. Major appliances typically have manufacturers’ warranties that cover the entire appliance for 1 year and select parts for longer. Confirm that these warranties have expired to avoid redundant coverage.
  • Consider all the costs. Sometimes the most affordable home warranty isn’t the one with the cheapest monthly or yearly premium. You’ll want to also consider the service fee, add-on costs, and coverage limits. Some home warranty plans offering low rates may prove to be significantly more expensive when you factor in the less obvious costs.
  • Do your research. Some home warranty providers are more reliable than others. Find impartial reviews from consumers or respected institutions to gauge the quality of the companies you’re interested in. Check that companies are licensed to operate in your state and that they haven’t been accused of unethical or illegal practices.

Is It Worth Getting A Home Warranty On A Rental Property?

Your rental property is an investment, and it’s important to take steps to protect that investment for the future. If the value of your property falls, so does the value of your investment and the income you can get from rent. As a landlord, taking care of your property will ensure you attract great tenants and keep your income flowing. 

A home warranty for a rental property is a great way to protect your investment. Plus, it makes budgeting easier, taking the guesswork out of calculating your monthly repair budget by clearly laying out your costs for premium and service fees. If you own a rental property or several properties, you should consider purchasing home warranty coverage. In particular, you should think about purchasing home warranty coverage if your rental property is older and requires frequent repairs or if you don’t have a full-time service technician on your payroll.

Patrick Sather
Patrick Sather is an award-winning personal finance writer and licensed broker who has worked for some of the largest financial firms in the United States, including TD Ameritrade and Pacific Life. A graduate of the University of Nebraska in both Economics and International Trade and English, his articles on life's most common financial decisions and quandaries are straightforward, practical, and always easy to understand.