Fires & Other Emergencies at Your Rental Property: What Should a Landlord Do First?

Apr 2, 2021 | Owner Education, Property Management Education

It’s difficult to think about emergencies and worst-case scenarios. No one wants to think about their investment property burning down or flooding or falling victim to some other catastrophe. 

But, things happen. Just last year, we had to deal with a situation where the fire department evacuated everyone in a building we managed. If you’re not thinking about how to handle these situations, you could find yourself unprepared when they happen. 

Put together an emergency plan. Communicate that plan with your tenants. Make sure all of your insurance information is up to date. These are the best things you can do to prepare for a fire, flood, or other emergency.

Put Together an Emergency Action Plan

The best way to approach any rental property emergency is to have an action plan. An emergency action plan can help you stay focused, organized, and prepared in an otherwise chaotic situation. Depending on the emergency, your plan will include any number of things. Maybe it means finding out who the government resources are at agencies that can help you. If you need to relocate a resident, you’ll want to know how to find the best options and where to go when you need help.

Contact Information and Communication is Critical

Before, during, and after an emergency, you’ll need to be willing to communicate openly and transparently. Make sure your tenants have a copy of your emergency action plan and understand what they should do if there’s a fire, a flood, or a weather disaster. 

It’s so important to make sure everyone has the right contact information. Tenants need to update you when they change phone numbers or email addresses. You need to share your new information with tenants as well. If you’re working with a professional property management company, make sure your property managers know how to reach you at all time. 

Over-communicating is never a bad thing during an emergency. You and your tenants may have access to different information and resources. Sharing what you know and updating each other throughout the emergency and its aftermath will keep everyone on the same page and feeling more in control.

Keep Your Insurance Information Updated and Accessible

Keep Your InsuranceWhen there’s an emergency that impacts your rental property, you’re going to need to know that your insurance policy is up to date and that you’re covered. Don’t wait for the emergency to happen before you find out whether you’re protected against that particular type of loss. Make it a habit to check in with your insurance agent regularly. 

There are a lot of different policies out there. You need to be sure your asset is covered, and you need to know what else you can count on. Maybe your landlord policy covers relocation assistance for your residents and loss of rent. 

Insurance is important, and you shouldn’t spend a lot of time thinking about how to save money by cutting corners on insurance policies. If the emergency in question happens to be a hail storm and you have huge holes in your roof from hail, you don’t want to find out after the fact that your policy doesn’t cover hail. 

Make sure you can access your policy number and the contact information for your agent or insurance company. If these details are written down in a paper file in your office but you can’t get to that office, you’ll want to know that you have them saved in your phone or somewhere online. Conversely, if there’s an internet or mobile outage that prevents you from accessing digital information, you’ll want to know what you’re looking for in a physical file somewhere else. 

Prepare for every possibility. This is not easy, but the time you take to get everything in order before an emergency happens will mitigate a lot of the stress and drama in the heat of the crisis. 

We can help you plan and update your emergency plan. If you’d like to talk about how we effectively manage Grand Rapids properties, please contact us at Short South Realty Group.