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Rental property owners and liability protection

July 19, 2019
By ERIC FEICHTHALER - Real Estate Law , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Dear Mr. Feichthaler,

I have a rental property that I own with my husband in Cape Coral, and I am afraid of being sued for activity that our tenants may be involved in. What can I do to protect us?

- Barbara N.

Dear Barbara,

Many of my clients own rental real estate in Cape Coral, and all have the same concerns you do to varying degrees. Some want to be protected from any conceivable liability, while others want to protect from the more likely occurrences. First, having your property insured for the full insurable value for hazards is vital. From there, you will want to have a good discussion with your insurance agent regarding policy limits and any exclusions. Will a crime committed by an renter on the premises subject you to liability, will insurance cover this? These are the types of questions that should be asked. Then, the next question is whether a personal umbrella policy would be good for you, and whether it would cover excess liability should your policy limits be exhausted. Many of my clients have an umbrella policy with limits of $1 million or more. Since it is very rare that these policies "kick in," the annual premium on these policies are lower than many expect.

Some owners like to further insulate themselves from liability by forming a separate entity, like a limited liability company. Generally, this will isolate the property so that, if an issue arose and you were sued, it would only impact the equity in the property, and not subject personal assets to judgments. In addition to these protections, you will want to ensure your leases, and methods to locate new tenants, are compliant with state and federal law.

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for over 30 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continues his service to the community through the Cape Coral Caring Center, Cape Coral Historical Museum, and Cape Coral Kiwanis. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for over 18 years, and they have four children together. He earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell for professional ethics and legal ability, and is a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

Mr. Feichthaler can be reached at, or (239) 542-4733.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.



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