Can Landlords Claim Loss of Rental Income?

Apr 28, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of challenges for tenants and landlords alike. With an eviction moratorium in place for most of 2020 and still in some states in 2021, landlords have faced pressure to keep tenants on, regardless of their ability to pay rent.

This loss of rental income may be a burden to landlords dependent on rent to pay their mortgage, property taxes, and general expenses. If you are a landlord who has suffered a loss of rental income, keep reading to find out if your landlord insurance can cover you.

Does insurance cover loss of rental income?

The short answer is yes, but only if you have the right type of insurance. While homeowners insurance will provide some liability and property damage coverage in case of an event such as a fire, landlord insurance adds extra coverage to protect landlords from risks associated with renting a property. This includes coverage for loss of rental income

Commercial property owners might have rental loss insurance as part of a commercial real estate policy or business interruption insurance, which covers income loss due to an unexpected event. 

Which policies typically cover loss of rental income

Landlord insurance, also called rental property insurance, covers risks associated with renting your home, apartment, or condominium to tenants for long periods of time. Coverage typically includes loss of rental income for landlords along with property damage and liability costs. A landlord insurance policy is often recommended for homeowners who rent a property for at least six months.

Loss of rental income protects landlords against the risk that a property will be unable to be rented out due to damage caused by an event covered by insurance, such as fire, lightning, wind, or hail. This rental reimbursement will ensure you do not lose the income you would have collected from rent.

A property owner’s commercial real estate insurance also may include rental loss insurance. This coverage often covers one month of rental income, but extended coverage can be added. Rental loss insurance also could be included in business interruption insurance. 

How to claim loss of rental income

Rental income losses can be reported on the Internal Revenue Service tax form 1040 Schedule E. For tax purposes, rental property losses often are considered passive losses. A passive activity loss (PAL) allows owners to deduct losses if they collect income from other sources, such as positive income from another rental property. If your rental income does not cover your losses in the tax year, you typically can carry the excess forward into future tax years.

If you are in the property management business working in activities related to that business at least half of your annual working hours, rental property income may be considered active income for taxes. A real estate professional also can deduct rental income losses. If you actively participated in a rental real estate activity, you may be able to deduct up to $25,000 of loss incurred from a rental property. Check the IRS guidelines on the rules for more information.

Note that the IRS requires taxpayers to turn a profit from a business in at least three of five consecutive years. If you claim a loss for three out of five years, the IRS will classify your business as a hobby, meaning you cannot claim related expenses on your taxes.

Get insured to claim loss of rental income

Landlord insurance and rental property insurance policies often include coverage to protect you and your business from a potential loss of income due to unexpected events. Policies can vary, so it is important to check with your insurer to confirm that the coverage includes what you need.

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