It’s 3 AM and your phone starts ringing. Who could it be? Reality snaps in and you remember you are a property manager. It’s one of your tenants, or worse, the fire department. This is not how you planned on starting to your day.
This is the nightmare of every landlord and property manager. That emergency phone call could be anything from anything — fire, pipe that burst, or a meteorite came through the roof. Every possibility will happen eventually. Luckily, I haven’t had that last one happen… yet.
Type of plans
Every property should have a fire escape plan. Depending on your region, you may want to consider including plans for natural disasters. In California, that may include an earthquake plan. In Florida, hurricanes.
What Information should I have in my Plan?
Organizing your plan will depend on the properties size, layout, location and other external conditions. Every good plan at it’s core will have at least:
- Escape route
- Utility shut-off
- Dealing with pets
- Special needs — for the elderly, handicap, etc.
- Safety resources
Distribute the Information
No matter how well you have planned for an emergency, it will not do any good unless others know about the plans. If the property is multi-unit or multi-level, you should consider posting building evacuation routes in various public places, like near stairwells and elevators. Providing printouts of maps and emergency procedures in a tenants move in package is another way to be proactive. Updating and redistributing emergency information annually or at move-in/renewal is a good way to ensure that tenants review the information and give you a chance to update any information, like phone numbers, that may have changed.
Protect the Property
The top priority in the case of emergency is to remove the tenant from harm’s way. In certain instances, you cannot always protect the property from damage or destruction. That’s when insurance comes in to play. Some insurance policies cover all risk and other may only cover named perils. FEMA recommends that all property owners carefully research the Insurance Information Institute to determine what kinds of insurance will offer the most protection. Many tenants may not realize that their belongings are probably not covered in the owners insurance. Make sure to strongly recommend that all tenants carry renters insurance. Many property managers, like Captiva Management, require both landlords and tenants to carry insurance as a way to protect everyone.
No one schedules an emergency. Drafting a emergency plan and getting into the hands of residents is key. Having a plan in place can reduce harm to tenants, minimize damage to a property, expedite recovery, and keep a property generating income. As the Boy Scouts say, “always be prepared.”