The Winters are going down as a doozy across the US. On the West Coast, there have been nonstop rains which brings flooding, road washouts, landslides, trees downed, electrical outages and hazardous road conditions. Montana had extreme weather at times 40 below this winter! East Coast has been hit with storms and hurricanes.
I must say every time I see a natural disaster I cannot help but thank my lucky stars that it isn’t me having to manage the cleanup.
Most landlords or investors only think of professional property managers as people who get tenants, handle everyday maintenance and collect rent. You have never probably thought of them as part of your First Responder Team!
A good property management company will be proactive before the weather event hits. They will do such things as:
- Clean gutters
- Check properties with Sump Pumps to ensure they work
- Trim trees away from powerlines and the rental property roof etc.
- Notify tenants how to handle emergencies, and to stock up on supplies
- Remote properties often have generators for power outages
- They will also make sure their maintenance team or vendors are prepared and on standby
- They may even have sandbags available for pick up if necessary
The property management company should also have their software in the Cloud in the event the office is damaged. This way they can continue to be reached by tenants and concerned property owners. I know of a property manager that was not in the cloud and their office burned to the ground. I cannot even imagine how they recovered from that. Just think of it all files lost, all data and computers lost, all keys lost.
Just as the Fire Department recommends property owners to clear brush away from homes, label circuit breakers, and have emergency supplies on hand your Property Management Company needs a disaster plan. Some typical things that should be done monthly, quarterly, annually are:
- Get updated insurance and emergency contact info from you and tenants
- All tenants should be required to have Renter’s Insurance
- Backup phone system with recording in event of emergency
- All files including tenant leases, accounting, maintenance files should be backed up remotely
- Vendor contact info should be in cell phones as well as property management software and accessible remotely.
- Facebook is a great place to gather information in emergency situations so the company FB Page should have current information.
- The management company should conduct drills just like Fire and Police so if the unthinkable happens everyone knows what to do.
Once the event has passed it is up to the property manager to:
- Assess damage
- Get bids for repairs
- Overseeing the repairs
- Manage frazzled nerves of tenants which could mean finding alternate housing for them
- Working with insurance companies to get reimbursed for damages
Once the weather event has passed the work has just begun. This is where your property manager earns their stripes. It is through their relationships with vendors that gets your property back up and habitable before others thus saving you money, and the headaches that go along with the cleanup. By having a plan and being prepared to put it into action when necessary your property management company can relieve not only your stress as the property owner but that of your tenants. They are truly the First Responders of Rentals.
Ask your property management company to share with you their plan and your role When an emergency happens. You will be glad you did.