Mother Nature can wreak havoc on your rental property. Mother Nature’s numerous weapons of tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, ice, snow, and wind can cost you tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, damage to your property. Preparing for these disasters and knowing what to do can save you time, money, and a lot of headaches.
Follow these steps to ensure your rental property is restored as quickly as possible and you’re not left out in the rain.
Ensure That Your Tenants Are Safe, Assess the Damage
Any good landlord will also check on the well-being of the tenants. Significant storms can be terrifying, so your tenants could feel the aftershock of terror. Ensure they are safe, secure, and immediate needs have been arranged for them in the storm’s aftermath. Depending on the severity of the situation, they could be displaced for quite some time.
Additionally, it could ruin their belongings. Their rental insurance policy could cover the replacement of their belongings and help with additional living expenses while preparing the property.
Once you have evaluated the damage to your rental property and have a list of what needs repairs, you’ll need to coordinate with your tenants. You will want to do this in writing. The notification should include:
- A description of the repairs needed for each room in their unit. This information will help them understand how long they may be without power or water.
- Whether or not they can stay at home during repairs (you cannot force them out). If not, where else is available for them to stay?
- How much rent is being charged for the repair period and other associated costs such as storage fees if necessary?
Assess the Damage
If the storm was particularly severe, please check if authorities permit re-entry to the area. Once the all-clear has been provided, thoroughly check your property to understand the entire scope of the situation.
When you first get to your rental property after a storm, there are some things you need to check.
- Check for fire damage. Look for scorch marks or other signs of heat damage on the walls and ceilings. Also, check for smoke damage on walls and furniture. Ensure that all electrical outlets are off.
- Check for water damage. If you notice standing water in any area of your home, it’s essential to determine whether it’s safe before removing items from that space. If it isn’t safe yet (due to flooding), take photos of everything so you can properly assess what needs cleaning once the flood has receded, and safely remove those items yourself (taking care not to put yourself at risk).
- Check structural stability by opening cabinets or drawers where heavy objects may have shifted due to their contents shifting around during the storm. This step should also include inspecting exterior areas such as decks/porches. If any part appears unsafe, ensure no one goes near them until they’ve been inspected by professionals who know what they’re doing (and maybe even replaced entirely).
The best way to document the damage is through photos and videos. Take these photos/videos before you start the cleanup process, so you can remember what it looked like before you started working. If any personal items have been damaged or destroyed, take pictures of them too. A video recording can help show the extent of water damage in your rental property and provide proof if any disputes about who is responsible for repairs come up later down the road.
Contact Your Insurance Company To Begin Your Claim
If you find yourself making an insurance claim for storm damage, hopefully, you’ve already determined what your policy covers. Not all policies are created equal. You don’t want to wait until a disaster to ask the right questions. You’ll want to be sure to tell your insurance agent about any known damage and about tenants that were affected by the damage.
Your insurance agent should be able to walk you step-by-step through what to do to file your claim successfully and begin the repair process.
Protect Your Asset from Further Damage
If the exterior structure of your property has been compromised, it’s essential to secure your property and protect it from further outside damage. That may include but is not limited to boarding a broken window and securing a tarp on your roof as you wait to complete larger repairs. It can be as important as the repairs as it can prevent extensive problems.
You may also want to consider the following: locking doors and windows, turning off all utilities—gas, water, electricity—and making sure there are no leaks from broken pipes or other sources of damage. You’ll want to ensure everything is secure before tenants return home after lifting the evacuation orders and before contractors come in to begin repairs themselves.
Check for any needed immediate repairs to prevent further damage. Also, do not hesitate to hire a trusted professional if you need assistance to secure your property and prevent further damage.
Find a Trusted Professional to Do the Repairs
Your local insurance agent may have a list of trusted restoration companies that can return your property to an inhabitable investment. If not, then you want to be sure that you find a reputable professional that can act as your one-stop shop to clean up your property and return it to a like-new condition. Not all restoration companies are the same. So, be sure to read reviews and research to find the right one. The right company will help restore your property quickly and reduce the pain of the disaster.