Whether you are a property manager along either coast or in the middle of the country, having plans in place for hurricane season is crucial. The rain and winds can cause just as much damage for states in the midwest as they can along the coasts. Being landlocked does not guarantee your, your clients properties, and your residents safety. As a property manager it is the best practice to be prepared for all situations. This not only eases your mind when something happens, but it shows your clients and tenants that YOU are the best in the business especially when it comes to emergencies.
Calm Before the Storm
The time to think about insurance is not when the Weather Channel is reporting from the eye of the storm. Depending on where you are, having flood insurance may not be enough. Most times, basic insurance won’t even cover damages caused by hurricanes or tropical storms. Talk with your clients right from the beginning to determine what type of coverage they feel would be best for their property. While property insurance is essential to protect your client’s home, the renters should also be educated on what insurance is available to them. The residents’ personal belongings won’t be covered under the owner’s insurance. To avoid any uncomfortable or difficult situations post storm with your renters, requiring they obtain insurance could be a good idea.
Creating an action plan for if and when a storm hits isn’t a bad idea either. Knowing what steps you need to take will help prevent any last minute stress on you, your client and tenant. When a storm is approaching there are many things you will need to do.
Time to Act
At the first word of a hurricane or tropical storm you should be making moves with your action plan. There are professionals that can prepare your rental properties before the season even begins. Items such as cleaning out the gutters regularly and using hurricane straps for roofs can be done earlier in the year. Cleaning the gutters may not be something everyone thinks about, but it can help reduce drainage issues which can contribute to flooding. Some work can be done yourself or you can still hire professionals; boarding the windows, bringing in any outside furniture. Regardless of who does the work, you want to make sure you treat any major storm as is it’s going to pick up the property and take off for Oz.
You want to make sure your renters have a plan as well. Whether they are staying to ride out the storm or evacuating, it is important you know what they plan to do and when. Express the precautions you and the owner have taken to protect the property, but still encourage them to adhere to any evacuation orders. Providing them with resources like FEMA for them to prepare also ensures you have done all you can.
In an ideal world if a hurricane hits, you as a property manager come out on top. But in the real world, that is not always the case. If you prepared for the worst then, hopefully, any damage isn’t as bad as it could have been. Regardless, the very first thing you want to do is take pictures of everything! Before you touch a thing, you need to document everything you see. The second thing you should do is call the insurance company. The quicker you accomplish those two items the better off everyone involved will be. Insurance companies will be flooded with calls and claims, so getting those two steps done as soon as humanly possible is in your best interest.
So you’ve photographed everything and put in a claim. Now you’re the one who’s phone is blowing up. The home owners and renters are going to want constant updates. They will want to know if any of their belongings are damaged or if they can even move back in.
Remember, you’re the one they are looking to for answers. Keeping calm and collected will help ease the trauma they may be feeling. Just as you took photos, encourage them to do the same for their own insurance. Survey the property together looking for dangerous material that can be thrown away, i.e. glass, moldy or rotting items.
Being a property manager in a disaster situation calls for more than just maintaining a property. There is no way to avoid the emotions and trauma that follows. Knowing how to offer support will help keep everyone cooperating peacefully and strengthen their trust in you. No matter what comes your way, as long as you have a plan and prepare, you will be able to handle any disaster.