What Happens if Your Bonita Springs Rental Property is Destroyed by a Hurricane – Owners Legal Responsibility to Tenants
System - Monday, October 23, 2017
Hurricane Irma just came through our area as a Category 4, and we’re taking this opportunity to talk about what you need to do as an owner when you have a hurricane or any other natural disaster. Avoiding hurricane destruction is not always possible, but when you’re prepared before the storm, you can mitigate some of the damage.
Before a Hurricane: Prepare
Before the hurricane arrives, do your best to prepare. Property management companies will have their disaster plans in place, so contact your property manager if you have one. If you are managing on your own, contact your tenant. Make sure your hurricane shutters are in place, and find out who is evacuating and who is staying in place. Go online for information and call your city and county officials for information on evacuation instructions and preparedness.
After the Hurricane: Evaluate
Once the hurricane is over, there are several things to do. First, make sure your tenant is okay. Safety is the most important concern. Talk to your tenant and find out when they want to come back, if they’ve evacuated. Check the property and assess the damage. You’ll need to know if it’s even safe for the tenant to return. If it’s not safe, you can’t let the tenant back there even if they want to go home. It’s not legal for landlords to allow a tenant into an inhabitable property. This is a big deal. You can be empathetic with the tenant and understand that they want to get home, but the property must be safe.
Landlord Insurance: Filing a Claim
Contact your insurance company immediately to file a claim if there is damage. Take a lot of photos, because your insurance company will want to see them. You will need to be patient with your insurance company, answer their questions, and meet them at your property. Make sure you know what your insurance policies cover and what they don’t. You cannot be left in the dark.
Moving Forward: Next Steps
Evaluate the next steps. At this point, it could go in many different directions. You may need to get the property ready for your tenants and you may need to conduct a mold test. Coordinate everything with your insurance carrier, and be careful about habitability.
Whether you have a flooded rental property or a home with minor wind damage, there are lots of things you need to know. If you are managing on your own, get as much information and help as you can.
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