New York City residents and many along the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. are still recovering from the catastrophic storm Sandy. Residents remain without power, and water, food and gasoline supplies are hampered. Despite best efforts to protects residents, many people died in the storm.
A large percentage of those affected live in rentals. In some cases, their very survival depended upon how closely they followed emergency evacuation orders. It may be weeks before they can return home or feel life return to normal.
You don’t have to own property in the path of a hurricane to experience emergencies in a rental property.
In fact, one of the most common emergencies is fire — from tenants’ cigarettes, to improper use of appliances like space heaters, to cooking accidents. Other common risks include flooding, unexpectedly high snowfall, medical problems, and crime.
While emergencies are few and far between, having a plan in place — just in case — can make the difference between survival and suffering, and can protect a rental property from damage.
Next time you are watching the news about Hurricane Sandy and the recovery, consider whether your rental property has an appropriate Emergency Plan:
Do your tenants know how to access messages regarding emergencies?
Do you have a sure-fire way to get in touch with tenants? Can they get in touch with you quickly?
Do you have family or emergency contact information for each tenant?
Are tenants prepared for a power outage?
Do they know who to call for a medical emergency, poisoning, if they smell gas or a carbon monoxide detector goes off? Are those phone numbers downloaded onto cellphones?
Can tenants evacuate easily, even in the dark or through smoke? Is the suggested route posted? Back-up routes?
Who is responsible for snow removal?
When was the last time the smoke or carbon monoxide detector was inspected? The fire extinguisher?
Is exterior, hallway and exit lighting in good repair?
Is the property up to code on sprinklers, alarms, window bars?
If it’s been awhile since you last spoke with your insurance agent, consider a call to confirm you have adequate coverage in place.
It’s better to think ahead than to look back in hindsight on what should have been done to protect your tenants, and your property.
This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.