Proactively preparing your property for disaster is one thing (and we’ve covered those recommendations in the blog: When Mother Nature Gets Mad), however, let’s not forget tenant safety. In fact, let’s prioritize tenant safety. I promise it is worth your time.
Working on behalf of investors and rental property owners, Consolidated Analytics sees the big picture related to excessive tenant communications during emergencies and disasters for several reasons: First, to ensure the safety of the tenant and prevent injury. Second, the protect the tenant from property personal property loss. Third, to reduce potential liability associated with an injury. Unfortunately, many rental property owners fall short of tenant communication requirements and often learn that lesson too late.
When it comes to tenant disaster and property awareness, the Consolidated Analytics rental property management team has seen it all: tenants unfamiliar with the unique disasters that may occur in a geographic area, overconfident tenants who underestimate the risk associated with staying in a property during a natural disaster, and tenants who are familiar with the local weather but unfamiliar with practical property management, security, and safety measures. Since there is no guarantee your tenant will intuitively know how to navigate extreme weather, it is up to the rental owner and its rental property management partner to make protocols clear by overcommunicating at every step. Here are a few recommendations to ensure your tenant stays safe and out of harm’s way:
Build Trust with the Tenant
Consolidated Analytics’ rental property management team recommends that rental property owners take measured steps to help tenants understand their rights and protect their personal property. Fannie Mae provides access to resources that can help renters understand their insurance options. Also, HUD.gov provides a guide on renters’ rights by state. In providing this information to the tenant, property owners can build trust and improve communication, which goes a long way if, and when a disaster occurs.
“In the Moment” Is Not Enough
“In the moment” communications may be too short of notice to ensure tenant safety. We recommend setting up an alert system to track local weather conditions where your rental properties are located and request your tenants do the same. There are various emergency technology services that issue severe warnings via text and in partnership with public safety agencies, FEMA, and weather service providers. These alert systems are valuable as they give the tenant more time to process the severity of the emergency and make plans to safeguard the property and leave the area if necessary.
Connect with Your Community
When you are away from the property, your neighbors can be your eyes and ears should something occur. A rental property owner and its property management partner will benefit from being included in community and neighborhood communications. There are many ways to keep in touch with your community ranging from phone, text, group email to neighborhood apps. Beyond communicating with your immediate neighbors, rental property owners and property management firms are encouraged to know and communicate with law enforcement, local repair contractors, local government, emergency management, and non-profits that support the community in the event of an emergency.
Be Upfront: Give Your Tenant Resources & Information
When a new tenant moves in, property owners will benefit by providing a document with tips to monitor, prepare, and react to an emergency. If communications are down, this documentation is available to the tenant for reference. Documented information should include details based on the local emergency procedures including exit routes, local shelter, hospital locations, emergency care, emergency numbers, law enforcement numbers, and more. Additionally, a “when to leave” guide, and a “how-to” guide on securing the property is strongly recommended if the tenant chooses to stay in the property during severe weather. Check local government websites, state emergency management websites, or local fire departments as they may already have such a document. Here is an example of evacuation steps for California fire-prone locations, Evacuation Steps – Ready for Wildfire.
Follow Up- Tenant Safety Checks are Important
Post-disaster communication, property inspections, and safety checks are critical. Just because a disaster is over, does not mean that the property is safe and habitable for the tenant. At Consolidated Analytics, our rental property management team never assumes all is well after severe weather. Post-disaster, our property managers reach out to the tenant to check on their and health and safety and to evaluate the condition of the property. Tenant safety checks keep the property owner in-the-know and expose issues that may cause future harm to the tenant.
If you are a rental property owner and your property is in an extreme weather location, the investment you make in a tenant communication strategy is worthwhile. Not only does strong communication strengthen tenant relations, and build trust with the occupants, it also protects the property. A tenant that trusts its rental property owner or its property management firm is more likely to reach out with problems, issues, or concerns that may affect the property’s rentability or value. In the end, overcommunicate. It is a win-win situation.