Renting out a harp

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    unknown-user on #150423


    I am looking to rent out my Venus Premier for the coming year (starting this January and continuing for one year), and I was just wondering if anyone has any advice or previous experiences with renting out harps. I have someone who is interested in it and would (as far as I can tell) take very good care of it. I am trying to figure out insurance, though. Right now the harp is covered under my family’s homeowner insurance, but our insurance agent told us that there is no policy that would cover it if it was not in our house. Does anyone have experience with this kind of thing? Also, I’m not sure what is a proper amount to charge per month for renting the harp. Any advice would be very welcome! Thanks!

    carl-swanson on #150424

    Your post points out a major problem in insuring harps. DON’T EVER INSURE YOUR HARP ON YOUR HOMEOWNERS POLICY! Your homeowners agent in all likelihood has no experience insuring musical instruments. To him or her, complete coverage is fire and theft, and only when it is in your home. It does not cover accidental damage, which is the major thing you need to insure for. I’ve had clients bring me their harps for repair who had insured their harps on their homeowners policy for years and were assured it was “completely covered.” When it came time to collect, they were told that it didn’t cover accidental damage. One client battled with her homeowners agent who then agreed to cover the repairs, but insisted she get three estimates! An insurance agency like Peter Anderson knows that the policy has to cover the harp wherever it is(a floating policy) and that if damage occurs, the owner has his or her preference for where it is to be repaired. They don’t ask for competing estimates or lists of materials and parts costs from me, which is what one homeowners agent did.

    I currently have 22 pedal harps rented and 5 or 6 lever harps. I have a written contract that they must sign before taking possession of the instrument. They have to insure the instrument, listing me as the loss/payee. The reason is that, while I own the instrument, they are in possession of it. So they have to insure it. Luckily, in 30 years of renting harps, I’ve never had an insurance claim. I could write a book though about the problems I’ve had with various clients over the years.

    catherine-rogers on #150425

    That’s a book I’d be interested in reading!

    carl-swanson on #150426

    Cathy- There are not too many of us who rent harps. But when we get together we all have stories to swap. I don’t want to give the impression that all renters are trouble. Far from it. Maybe one out of 100 is trouble. But what trouble!! Maybe tonight or tomorrow, when I have more time, I’ll post one of the more interesting ones here.

    carl-swanson on #150427

    Cathy- Here are a couple of stories.

    Years ago I rented a harp to a girl in college in Boston. She got several months behind in the rent(my fault for letting it go so long) and when I finally called the number she had given me she had moved. The person who told me this, another student in a house of several students, was obviously angry and said that she had left in the dead of night owing them her share of the rent and utilities, etc. He gave me a number where he thought she had moved. When I called that number I got the same story from someone there. It seems this girl had a pattern of moving into a house full of students, waiting until she was in debt to them, and then leaving with no warning when they were not around. Over a period of weeks I tracked her path through 4 or 5 such houses.

    The last one I called, a woman answered. I asked the usual questions and got the by now familiar answers. She had left in the dead of night owing this woman money. Did she have a forwarding address or phone number I asked? No, nothing. She had no idea where this girl had gone. I thanked her and was about to hang up(and give up ever finding the harp, let alone collecting the rent owed), when the woman asked me why I was looking for her. I started to explain that the girl had a harp that belonged to me. “So YOU’RE the one who owns the harp!!” she shouted. ” I’ve been trying for months to find the owner of this harp. She left and took everything with her except the harp.” The poor woman had called the Boston Symphony, the music schools and conservatories, and area music stores, trying to find out who the harp belonged to. This stupid girl didn’t even have the decency to put a note on the harp saying who it belonged to.

    Here’s another story that happened very recently to a friend of mine who also rents harps. I was appalled when I heard this. I’ll call this woman Lisa(not her real name) and she is a harp teacher who also rents instruments and occasionally buys and sells used harps. She rented a harp to a woman who said she was looking to buy eventually and if Lisa came across anything she wanted to know about it.

    The woman ended up renting Lisa’s harp for 3 years and the last year got very far behind in the rent. Lisa tried to collect, one thing led to another, and Lisa had to take the woman to court to collect the back rent and get the instrument back. The woman countersued Lisa for all the rent she had paid over the 3 years, saying that Lisa had promised to find her a harp to buy and had not done so. Lisa told the judge that she had told the woman about 5 different harps over the 3 year period, all of which the woman rejected. The judge found in Lisa’s favor and ordered the woman to allow Lisa into her house to collect the harp.

    Lisa went with a court officer, got into the house, and began removing the instrument. The woman came up close to Lisa and whispered to her, “You tell anybody about this and I’ll make sure that no parent will ever leave their child alone with you!”

    When Lisa told me that story, I asked her if she had a written contract when she rented harps. She didn’t. I read her the riot act and told her she absolutely positively had to have a written contract for every rental. I emailed her mine to use as a template. A written contract would probably have avoided this whole mess. At the time of my story, I didn’t have a written contract either.

    janelle-lake on #150428

    Check out the American String Teacher’s Association’s insurance policy.

    galen-reed on #150429

    I also play violin/viola, and several years ago my violin was badly damaged in an accident.

    onita-sanders on #150430

    I have had no experience with renting out a harp for more than one day.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #150431

    I would avoid a security deposit or anything that implies that it would be all they owe, that they could simply forfeit it and take the harp. I unfortunately had a student who did that (not to me).

    Stephanie Bennett on #150432

    @Saul: I do get a security deposit, enough to cover dings, but also spell out in the contract that they are responsible for repair or replacement even if it exceeds security deposit. The contract also lists replacement value at the time of rental. Being very professional as the lessor helps you be taken seriously by the lessee. They can tell you mean business.

    Stephanie Bennett on #150433

    PS oh about the rental prices for pedal harps. (@Janelle), Why should the rental price for a pedal be less than twice that of a lever, when the purchase of a pedal harp is about ten times that of a lever? Mine are $150 to $250. If you want something to compare to (and if your prospective renters complain that’s too much), compare to Lyon & Healy: I don’t see the prices listed on their page today but several years ago I think it was several hundred dollars a month.

    alyssa-michalsky on #150434

    I know all of us who have rented have horror stories. Just like my gigs, I do not do anything without a contract. Make sure to list all stipulations about it’s care as well as the responsibilities should something happen to it. If they sign it with all of the stipulations listed, there are no misunderstandings. However, as we all know, even with the best of contracts, things happen. You have to be prepared for worst case scenario. Should anything go awry, the contract will protect to some degree, but does not save you the hassle of suing or going to court. One of my stipulations is that it is their responsibility to insure it (as even Anderson who insures many of us) does not allow for coverage if it is in someone else’s posession. If they do not insure it, and something disaterous happens, they are responsible for the full price of a new harp most similar to that model. I’m even pickier stating also that if there is any “new” damage like nicks or scrapes that were not present before the rental, those are also “subject” to charge. It really puts the onus on the renter to be VERY careful and responsible with it, otherwise there may be some serious $$ charges on it’s return…..

    Like someone else said, 99% of the time there is never a problem, but you must always be prepared.

    Good luck!


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