The US officially entered peak hurricane season at the beginning of August, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasting “above-normal” activity in the Atlantic Ocean. States along the Gulf Coast are especially vulnerable, meaning residents should start preparing now – as should property managers.
PayProp wants to keep our clients as safe and protected in real life as they are on our platform. We’ve compiled several ways property managers can be proactive this hurricane season and help the rental properties under their management stay safe and dry.
It’s good form to put the wellbeing of fellow humans above all else when there’s an impending threat.
Whether you use email, text, phone, or indeed the PayProp Tenant portal to communicate, property managers should always aim to keep tenants and landlords informed of emergency contacts, any predetermined evacuation plans, what flood zone level they’re in, and other relevant resources and advice for the duration of the hurricane.
Once the storm is over and everyone is safe and accounted for, use that same line of communication to exchange damage assessments and your timeline for repairs.
Invest in insurance
Mother Nature doesn’t have to cost a landlord any more than she already does. A robust flood or loss of income insurance plan means homeowners will avoid having to pay out of pocket for repairs.
Take a moment to review any policies your landlords have in place and familiarize yourself with your state’s possible legal requirements to protect property and tenants from hurricanes. If your landlords don’t have coverage, it’s in your best interest to assist them in getting some as early as possible.
Do preventative maintenance
Anything outdoors that can be picked up and blown away by strong winds such as patio furniture, lawn decorations, and garbage cans should be brought inside or tied down. Clear gutters of debris that could potentially clog drains and flood the property. Prune trees of dead branches that risk being turned into dangerous projectiles. Fix loose shingles or holes in the roof to prevent leaky ceilings – and encourage tenants to flag maintenance issues promptly through the Tenant portal so that you can take care of them.
Property managers should also make arrangements ahead of time for the repair process, which can be a natural disaster in and of itself. In the aftermath of a hurricane, demand for service providers soars and if you don’t have contracts lined up before the first gust of wind, you’ll be stuck waiting indefinitely. Even worse, that downed tree or ruptured pipe can cost you months’ worth of rent if your rental is deemed unlivable and tenants are forced to move out. Utilize relationships with local contractors to get your properties the immediate attention they need after a hurricane.
Show appreciation by making sure your vendors are paid swiftly and accurately. Landlords can reserve funds in their Property account exclusively for unexpected maintenance and set up automated contractor payments to speed up the process. With PayProp’s built-in segregation of client money in keeping with trust principles, it’s impossible for landlords to pay for one property’s repairs with another property’s money.
Keep important documents dry
Because PayProp is cloud-based, all your essential documents and data is backed up to our resilient Amazon environment, and protected with encrypted access. A chance to switch from cash or checks to digital for more secure, faster payments requires less hassle and fewer filing cabinets. Rent payments will continue even in lockdown situations if tenants are set up on the Tenant portal.
But should you still have any physical copies of property records, billing information, or tenant and owner files, they should be stored in a weatherproof safe, preferably offsite.
On a final note, once any damage is patched up, do a complete walkthrough to ensure that it is safe for tenants to return. Also take photos and an inventory to show the state of the property when it is returned or for the portal you list it on when the property is put up for rent again.
The impact of a hurricane is potentially devastating but can be minimized if you prepare. Do all that you can to protect the rental properties in your care, your landlords, tenants and your own business from any liability before the first major storm blows in and you’ll spare yourself a lot of time, money, and headaches – and keep your clients secure and happy. Stay safe.