Hurricanes can be devastating to property. While some may be well-versed in the various aspects of hurricane preparation, many more are unfamiliar with the territory. Knowing how to protect your rental property during hurricane season is essential in protecting your property and the safety of your tenants. This guide will split up this subject into three time frames. The first section will discuss what you can do in the months before hurricane season is happening. The second section outlines what you should do immediately before a hurricane is in progress. The third and last section will discuss what you should do immediately after a hurricane.
Knowing what to do in the months before hurricane season starts can save you a lot of time, effort, and stress. Most often in times of a hurricane, there are periods of time that precede it during which there are heavy shortages of most essential objects. Things such as food, sandbags, lightbulbs, batteries, water, and many other objects should always be expected to be scarce during these times. To combat this, you must stock all essential items that might benefit your rental property in preparation for such an event.
Hurricane insurance is another major factor in hurricane preparation. In most circumstances, hurricane insurance may cover a broad definition of hurricane damage or a very narrow definition of hurricane damage. In some cases, insurance policies may cover “hurricane damage from winds exceeding 100 mph.” Others may be more lenient, stating that all damage incurred during the period when your house was in the hurricane is covered. In either case, knowing your exact insurance policy relating to hurricanes is essential in your preparation for a coming storm. It is worth noting that hurricane insurance is never included in a basic package of insurance. If you do not explicitly see hurricane insurance on your policy, you should assume that you are not covered by insurance.
Furthermore, you will want to notify your tenants about a hurricane insurance policy. It is always safe to assume that your insurance policy does not extend to the renter’s belongings. As such, many landlords require that their tenants get hurricane insurance, just to be safe.
If a storm is approaching, time is undoubtedly of the essence. In these situations, having a plan set forth on what you need to do in the moments before a hurricane hits is essential to saving your property. First and foremost, if a storm is imminent, you should always have some way to stay in contact with the weather service. This will allow you to stay on top of the situation and not be surprised when the hurricane does hit.
As for general preparation, doing such things as bringing in patio furniture, any flowerpots, or any other object that is not secured to the ground should be done first to prevent any injury. Another thing that you should do is board up your windows. This can prevent the glass from shattering and potentially harming anyone inside. In some more niche cases (such as single-family homes), reinforcing the roof with hurricane straps prevents the roof from being lifted off the property. Furthermore, reinforcing all bolds on exterior doors will prevent them from being ripped out of the door frame or smashed in from an outside object. Cleaning out rain gutters could also be helpful, as it will allow them to function properly and prevent water from pooling on your roof or in the gutters.
As for your tenants, before the storm does hit, it is best practice to ensure that the tenants are aware of the hurricane and know what you are doing to prevent property damage. As stated before, it is not your responsibility to ensure that they are prepared for the hurricane, but it is essential that you help them board up windows and secure any loose objects on the outside of the property. Lastly, ensure that you suggest some preparedness resources for your tenants.
The hours after a hurricane are essential in documenting all the damage your property incurred during the storm. As you survey your property, emphasize taking pictures of absolutely everything. Especially with the use of cellphone cameras, there is virtually no reason to take as many pictures as possible to document everything. Documentation of damage is essential to your insurance claim, as without any pictures, the insurance company will not accept your claim or reimburse you for any damages caused by the hurricane. After you accomplish this, ensure that you call your insurance company as soon as possible. This is extremely important since you are not the only one calling the insurance company at that time. In fact, there may be hundreds of people in line to talk to the insurance representative, so it is important to get in the queue as soon as possible.
After your property damage has been documented and you have called your insurance company, you should take action to protect your property from further damage. A good place to start with this damage repair is the windows. Inspect every window and check for chips or cracks. If there is any broken glass, ensure that you sweep it up and board the window. After that, look for any water damage on the interior of the property. If you are unable to get into the property, notify your tenants to let you know about any water damage as soon as possible.
Along with this, inspect for any mold. You look for evidence of mold through any discoloration, musty smell, or any visible mold spots. Mold itself can cause significant damage to a property and your personal health. As such, it is exceedingly important to affirm immediately and continuously that there is no mold present on the property.
Knowing how to protect your rental property during hurricane season is often confusing. Between the overwhelming emotional response to seeing your property damaged to the grueling task of cleanup and documentation, it can be somewhat overwhelming to the average landlord. Property management services can help in times like this. If you need a property management service in Oviedo, don’t hesitate to reach out to Russell Properties.