Insurance Company Canceling Policy on Vacant House

Insurance company just notified us they are cancelling the insurance policy on our rental property because the property is still vacant. I guess they have a 60-day limit, which they didn’t tell us about before. Would’ve been nice to know this time limit when we got the policy from them when purchasing the house in August. Maybe there was fine print we didn’t read.

Anyway, I’m looking for advice on what – if anything – we can do about this… assuming we do not get a tenant before the deadline.

Anyone else run into this issue?



Standard insurance has always had a occupancy clause, there is options for other insurance for vacant property we use for fix and flips (Rehabs), etc. This optional insurance is really expensive and not pro-rated so to protect your mortgage lender you might be forced into this type of policy.

I would look at lower my rent $50 to $100 per month for a year lease before I paid upwards of $1000 for 6 months of a vacant property policy!

Get a tenant!


Thanks GR.

We have already lowered the rent – twice, $50 each time – from the amount first suggested by the property management agency on 1 Sept. Have also offered incentive of “2 weeks free rent” with 1-year lease, but no takers yet.

Will tell agency to lower rent AGAIN. We aren’t hurting for money and wouldn’t mind waiting except for the stupid insurance issue.

Somebody’s gonna get a bargain!


What marketing are you/PM company doing to get renters?
On a freshley rehabbed home you should only have to be a bit below avg market rent to get all the qualified renters you need.

You should be on MLS, craigslist, greensheet, and a sign in the yard and your phone should be ringing.


We use Guide One and Foremost. For Guide One, I don’t specify if the property is vacant or not. Foremost requires a declaration but the price increase for a vacant property isn’t much different. Might want to check into those companies.

Hi Pete – The property is listed on MLS, Craigslist, and (not sure about Greensheet) and the PM’s website, and there’s a sign in the yard. It’s in a good, popular neighborhood. House is freshly painted with new roof; looks good (inside & out). The rent is now $150 lower than comparable properties. The phone is NOT ringing. PM is averaging 1 email query per week; only 1 showing since it’s been marketed. :banghead

Hi Justin – Thanks for the insurance company recommendations. I’ll definitely check them out.

I didn’t hear you mention a local newspaper. Do you have a “want ads” type of classified ad paper in your area? Those are usually pretty cheap for placing ads. If you have any military installations near by, you can go to and place an ad on there too. Is your property manager still making money off you while the house is vacant?

Justin – I haven’t checked newspaper classifieds. We don’t live in the city where the house is located, but I’ll check online.

The closest military installation is an hour’s drive away.

The property manager charged an upfront fee for the advertising costs, but earns no more unless and until the house is rented (then gets 50% of first month’s rent, then a flat fee of $100 per month).

FYI, we’re now asking $1295/month (down from original $1450) for 3 br, 2 bath, 1818 sq ft house in Sacramento.

I’m not a huge fan of the pictures shown in the ad. The tree makes it hard to see the house and the sky takes up a lot of the picture. Many of the comps in your area are newer houses with a two car garage. The inside is dated, appliances are very basic, and I dislike all the tile. Many of the other ones I saw are carpeted. I’m guessing you’re still a bit high on rent by at least $100/mo.

I don’t know your area but in general a property will lease instantly (within a week or 2) except for one of 2 things either condition or price. If it is made ready properly then it is the price.

You do have another factor that is your property manager. If he is not showing the property or doing some other business practice that is causing you to miss prospective tenants you need to find out. It may be worth it to call on it to test how he responds to a prospective tenant.

EH: The PM took the photos. I realize the view of the front isn’t great, but we’re not going to cut down the tree, and other angles of the house aren’t great, either.

The only appliance shown in photos is the stove, and I agree it’s dated and should be replaced. Try telling my husband that! If the PM had advised replacing it, he would’ve done it. When the wife advises replacing it, he ignores it. We spent thousands on new roof, concrete patio, new siding, paint, etc. – but he balks at spending $150 on an “almost-new” stove. Go figure. (Sorry for venting here, but thanks for “listening.”)

The tile is pet-friendly and easy to keep clean. I used to be a wall-to-wall carpet person myself until I moved into a house with lots of tile 4 years ago – I totally prefer tile to carpet now. And I’ve read that, given the option of new carpet or tile, prospective tenants will often choose tile. The PM seemed to like the fact that it had a lot of tile. But I am a rookie at landlording so do appreciate your feedback.

Bluemoon: The “condition” is good, but could be made better with more money, of course. We’re not looking to compete with new or totally remodeled houses – we just don’t have the budget for that, and got such a good deal on the house that we didn’t feel it necessary to go for the higher end of the rental market.

Our PM made it clear that newer/remodeled properties would rent for more money, even if less square footage.

We did check out the PM company (and others) before signing with them. So did our real estate agent, who was unfamiliar with Sacramento PM agencies (but handles rentals as well as sales herself in her area). She made some calls, and also posed as a prospective tenant – and told us she was very impressed with their customer service and recommended we hire them.

I don’t know what the average time to find a tenant is in the Sacramento area, but will do more research on that… and also look into other PM companies if I find any indication that they’re not doing all they can to find us a tenant.

Lowering the rent yet again is another option, as well. I’m just not sure how long to test an amount before deciding it’s still too high.

Thank you all for your advice!

If it were me, I would take pictures on the driveway crouched with the camera on the ground to make the house appear much bigger. I think the tree will disappear in that picture. I generally take a bunch of mine (like 200) and then select the best for the ad. I think it makes a difference.

I agree about the stove.

Regarding the tile: the pet friendly aspect is great. I live in the midwest where it gets cold, tile on bare feet is very uncomfortable. It may be different there. The thing to remember about all that stuff is that everyone has different preferences. Someone will walk in there and LOVE the tile, but for others like me it’s enough to keep going. I’m not suggesting you change it, but you’ve got to show the house a number of times before you find that person.

Regarding the rent, I lower the price when the calls stop. As long as the house is showing the price stays put.

From your description the house is in decent rental condition.
Appliances should be clean and functional.
You can upgrade them when your tenant renews.

I would get some kind of paper advertisement. (Greensheet, thrifty nickle, newspaper classifieds.) I get a ton of calls when I run those as compared to just web-based media.

You might also send a letter to the neighbors with a pick your neighbor campaign.
This gets the neighbors thinking of who they might know to move in on thier street instead of one of “THOSE” tenants. You can offer $100 incentive if they send a qualified tenant to you and you lease to that tenant (Qualified= no felonies, no evictions, no broken leases.)

Great ideas, Pete – thanks!

I hope that you have managed to get you property rented. However, if not the best advice I can give you is. Lower the price!

It doesn’t have to be by a lot, you would be surprised how price sensitive renters can be. I once had a house I was trying to rent. The first few weeks on the market, I only received a few calls and was unable to setup any showings. I lowered the price by $20, and the phone was literally ringing off the hook. While I was setting up one showing, I would get one or two additional voice mail messages about the property. Needless to say I had no problem renting the home to a very qualified candidate.

Since this experience I have rented all of my properties is what you might call a reverse auction format.

I choose what I feel is an ambitious asking price, and lower it by $20 each week until it is rented. I also tell applicants this, which does two things. First if they think the price is too high, they know they can check back in a week or two when the price reaches what they would like to pay. But it also creates a sense of urgency for them because they don’t know what others are willing to pay.

Rarely do I have a full month of vacancy at any of my properties since implementing this system.


Thanks Steve. That’s kinda what happened with our property. Except we lowered the price by $50 instead of $20 (I’ll keep that $20 number in mind next time!). This brought the price down to $1300 – well, actually we listed it as $1295.

Then, after very little interest, we had 6 showings, with 4 of them applying to rent our house. This was, unfortunately, 3 days after our existing insurance policy was cancelled and we had to pay an additional $280 (on top of the $830 we’d already paid for insurance) for a new policy that would insure a "vacant’ property.

But we have highly-qualified tenants who signed a one-year lease and moved in last weekend! What a relief! :biggrin

My thanks again to everyone who provided tips and advice. This forum is a goldmine of helpful info!


Congrats on the tenant. You might start shopping for an insurance agent, that’s a crappy thing to do. Technically they are right but my agent has helped me through this situation before.

I know this is kinda late but it might you help in the future and those reiclub members who are still in the process. :smile I’m not sure how it works but I think using the social networking sites as a platform could be of helpful. Post, tweet and announce your property and bump them every other day is a good way of telling the world that you’ve got a great opportunity to offer. Congrats to you!