Are you as ready as possible for the next hurricane?
What will you do if you learn that a hurricane is bearing down on your rental property?
With a disaster plan in place, you can know how to respond when a hurricane hits, and save lives and even livelihoods if you act with a level head.
When Hurricane Charley swept through the southwest coast of Florida in 2004, property management offices were put out of business in a matter of hours because the hurricane wiped out their entire inventory of rental properties. Hundreds of properties were damaged beyond habitability in neighboring Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda and Arcadia. This also left many hundreds of tenants without homes.
At Sarasota Management and Leasing, we know the hazards our landlords are faced with, and we’re committed to making you and your properties as prepared as possible for any eventuality. This is what sets us apart from other management and leasing companies —
when disaster strikes, we want you to be prepared and to know that we’re with you all the way. In fact, we’ve created a detailed disaster plan that you will be receiving very soon. In the meantime, here are some practical ways to protect your property investment and finances:
Prepare Your Property Manager
· Establish a way of communicating with your property manager or tenant in the event that power and phones are down. This could be through your manager’s web site or cell phone if phone service and/or power are out. Be sure there’s a “Plan B” in case “Plan A” is unreachable.
· Make sure your manager has back-up generators to power the property’s office if the electricity is off and phones are out.
· Make sure your property manager backs up critical data on a regular basis. If they do not have reliable off-site backups of critical documents, a hurricane could put
you them (and you) out of business.
· Create a communication plan that enables your property manager to get messages to you regarding your property. If you are remote and phones are down, it may require the property manager sending an overnight letter to you via FedEx or a similar carrier.
· Make sure your management agreement covers contingencies such as what your manager will or won’t do if a disaster strikes. Get written assurance from them that they will survey the damage, take action to protect your property from further damage and report back to you. If not, consider Sarasota Management and Leasing, because we promise to take action.
Have Your Proof of Insurance Handy
· Gather copies of your appliance manuals as proof of what you owned.
· Get a hard copy of your insurance policy and put it somewhere safe and dry. In the event of a hurricane, your insurance agent may have no access to your policy. If you can present them your hard copy, then they can go to work helping you.
· Make sure your insurance policy covers you for lost income. This requires that your insurance company knows that your property is a rental property and that you have rental property insurance.
Prepare Your Property
· Consider getting storm shutters at your property now and make a plan to have them installed. If you wait until a disaster, everyone else will be in line for the shutters and installers will quickly get overwhelmed. Plywood will quickly sell out as well. Pre-purchasing and fitting your shutters, then storing them until you need them will ensure protection.
Prepare Your Tenant
· Advise your tenant to carry renters insurance and inform them that you are not responsible for loss of their property.
· Prior to the storm, make sure your property manager
to will contact the tenant and tell them to batten down all loose yard equipment and toys so they don’t become deadly missiles.
· Make sure that your Property Manager has prepared a disaster plan for your tenant so they know what to do to protect themselves and the property, and how and where to get help.
Prepare Your Lease
· Ensure that your lease has language that releases you from the contract if your property is damaged to the point of becoming uninhabitable. This will require a clause in your lease that allows contract termination in this case.
· Include wording in your lease that stipulates that you or your manager can and will determine whether the property is uninhabitable. This will settle all arguments between you and your tenants as to what must be repaired and how fast it must be done.
If you are a property owner with Sarasota Management & Leasing, you will be receiving our detailed Disaster Plan for Landlords very soon. In it, we will spell out what precautions and preparations we are taking in order to assist you in riding out the storms.
It’s easy to let your guard down because a few years have passed since hurricanes have done any major damage. However, you can be assured that we will get hit again, and an ounce of prevention now is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars of loss when disaster strikes.