Do you know what you’ll do if disaster strikes? If you’re a landlord, having a plan for you and your family isn’t enough. You also need to have a plan in place for your properties and tenants. In some cases, a disaster preparedness plan also may be a requirement for your locality and/or your insurance policy. If you don’t yet have an emergency plan, these emergency preparedness tips for landlords will help you create one.
Think through emergency scenarios
Every disaster scenario is different, but a good place to start is to make a list of scenarios applicable to your location, or more specifically, your property. For example, potential broad-scale emergencies in Chattanooga, Tennessee, include flooding, high winds (and electrical outages), and, increasingly in recent years, tornadoes. You want to have a plan in place for the specific scenarios you’re likely to experience.
Your plan should account for multiple situations, especially if you have more than one rental home. A single tornado, for example, could knock out power for one property and cause structural damage to another, necessitating different responses.
Your emergency response plan should also include insurance. Before you buy, consider these insurance concerns for landlords.
First, it is your responsibility as a landlord to provide a safe dwelling that’s up to code for your tenants. In addition, you should provide your tenants with information related to emergency situations, including:
- Clearly posted building evacuation routes
- Routinely serviced smoke, fire and CO2 detectors, as well as fire extinguishers
- Clearly marked shelter-in-place areas within the property for scenarios like tornadoes
- Suggested items for an emergency kit, like a flashlight, medicine and first aid supplies. These would make nice additions to welcome gift baskets when tenants move in.
If you’re an out of town landlord, consider designating a local representative who can visually assess the situation and contact h your tenants if phone lines or internet connections are down. If you work with a property manager, find out what services they do and don’t provide when it comes to a disaster situation.
Communication is vital
One of the most important tools during a disaster is communication. Without it, you’re blind to the state of your property and the well-being of your tenants. Establishing multiple communication channels, and a plan to use them, is essential. The key is variety. If one form of communication gets knocked out, you’ll want to have back-up options available.
- Consider installing a landline in your home or office as backup. This will help if cell towers are destroyed or networks are overloaded.
- Use social media to send messages if you can’t get through to your tenants by phone.
- If you’re in town and can access the property, stop by to assess any damage and speak to your tenants after disaster strikes.
Secure your documents
Property ownership creates a lot of paperwork. Be sure to have multiple backup copies in case one set or more are compromised. In addition to the copies you have stored at your home or office, it’s a great idea to have an additional set of copies stored off-site, like in a safe deposit box. You’ll also want to store a set in the cloud, so they can be accessed anywhere you have an internet connection.
Quick access to important documents will help you handle disaster situations more quickly – whether at your investment property or your own home.
The difference between successfully or unsuccessfully managing an emergency situation is often the quality of the plan in place beforehand. Be sure to think through different scenarios and provide a set of robust options for both you and your tenants to rely on. And, if you’d like help, call Greyhaven today at 423-648-6676.