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Hurricane Safety for Landlords and Renters

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Hurricane season is upon us, and you don't have to be a homeowner to recognize the devastation that these storms can cause.

Every year, June through November, hurricanes emerge from the water off the U.S. coast. While just a small percentage reach land, the ones that do often cause devastating damage, leaving a path of destruction in their wake.

We have all seen the wreckage that these powerful storms can cause. Even if we may not have witnessed firsthand the damage ourselves, we have all heard the stories and seen the news. Hurricane season is not for the faint of heart, nor should it be taken lightly.

For landlords who have properties in at-risk areas, it's important to take steps ahead of time to help protect your properties from hurricanes -and to take the time to educate tenants on their responsibilities during this season as well.

With this in mind, here's a look at some things that you and your tenants can do -to safely weather the storm.

For Landlords

As a landlord, naturally you'll want to ensure that your property is protected and that your tenants are prepared for hurricane season. Here are a few things that you can do ahead of time.

    • Check in With Tenants


It's important to remember to take some time to check in with your tenants early on in the season. Your tenants may not be aware of the dangers and severity of storms in the area, so it's a good idea to fill them in on the basics, to make sure they understand what they should do to stay safe. Consider informing them of all the tasks that you will do to help get the property ready for the season, and write a list of things that they can do to stay safe, and keep the property safe as well. Ideally, you'll want to include these responsibilities in the rental agreement, so that tenants are aware of these responsibilities when they move in. Otherwise, you may be responsible for doing many of these tasks yourself.

    • Check Your Insurance


Next, it's important to ensure that you have adequate insurance on your rental. Take a minute to read up on your policy to see what's included. Usually hurricane damage is excluded from general policies, and in hurricane-prone areas, an additional policy for hurricanes must be purchased. You should also consider obtaining coverage for flooding, as hurricane policies don't typically cover flood damage. Finally, remember to read the fine-print or talk with your insurance agency, as some hurricane policies only kick in for storms that are Category 2 or higher, or when winds exceed 75 miles per hour.

    • Prepare Your Property


The required level of storm prep for your rental will vary depending on the severity of the storm, but there are some tasks that you can do before hurricane season hits to help equip your home to withstand the storms. Here's a look at some things that you can do before hurricane season, as well as some tasks that should be done just before a storm.

Before Hurricane Season:

    • Clean the gutters -allowing water to drain properly

    • Check the roof for leaks or loose shingles

    • Consider purchasing roof clips or hurricane straps to help keep the roof attached in case of a hurricane. Or hire a contractor to install them for you.

    • Consider having storm shutters installed for windows, skylights, doors, and open vents

    • Keep any pools filled to 12 inches below the edge, cover pumps and turn off the electricity

Just Before a Storm:

    • Turn off propane tanks

    • Turn off the main gas valve

    • Hang plywood over the windows, doors, and open vents -or have tenants close the storm shutters

    • Tape any exposed glass to prevent shattering

    • Insert wedges in sliding patio doors

    • Lower any antennas and protect satellite dishes

    • Secure electrical outlets and cover with duct tape

    • Secure garage doors

    • Consider placing sandbags around your property's perimeter, or in front of the doors and entry points if there's a risk of flooding

    • Elevate appliances and furniture off the floor if there's a risk of flooding

Now, let's look at a few things that tenants can do to help prepare for a severe storm.

For Tenants

As a tenant, you might not be as concerned about the property outside as you are about your belongings inside the home. However, protecting the outside of the home will protect the inside as well, and it's still important to do everything that you can to help make your home as storm-resistant as possible. Additionally, many of these steps will help you to stay safer during the storm as well.

Here's a look at a few things that you can do to help your home weather the storm!

    • Check Your Insurance


Generally, your landlord's insurance will only cover the structure and their belongings. Your personal belongings and valuables are not usually covered under this policy. For this reason, it's a good idea to ensure that you have renter's insurance -so that your belongings and valuables are covered in case of the unexpected.

    • Do Inventory


Next, it's important that you have a current inventory of your personal belongings. Taking photos and keeping receipts of high-value items is also a good idea. This will help you in the event that you need to make an insurance claim. Make sure the list is kept in a safe place; preferably off-location, but at the very least in a secure, waterproof container.

    • Check in With Your Landlord


You should also check in with your landlord to see if there is anything you can do to help prepare the grounds and the property. While your landlord might have things covered already, it still doesn't hurt to ask.

    • Secure the Grounds


You can also take steps to prepare the outside of the home by bringing in all outdoor furniture and grills, and securing any awnings. Plants, and other loose objects that could be blown around and cause damage should also be brought inside. Just remember to wrap plastic bags around the bottom of the plants, so that they don't cause damage to the floor. Also, remember to turn off any propane tanks and to shut off the main gas valve just before the storm.

    • Be Prepared


While preparing your home is vital, it's also important to prepare yourself and your family for worst-case scenarios. Have a plan, be prepared to evacuate should the need arise, create an emergency kit, and make sure you have everything you need should you have to go for an extended period of time without power.

Here's a look at some important steps that you should take.

    • Park your vehicles against the garage door and keep the gas tank full

    • Move all furniture away from exposed windows and doors

    • Fill bathtubs and sinks with water in case the water supply becomes contaminated

    • Set the refrigerator on the coldest setting

    • Stock up on nonperishable and canned foods. A three-day supply of food is a good idea.

    • Get a three-day supply of water. One gallon per person per day.

    • Compile emergency supplies in an easy-to-carry supply kit. The Red Cross has a helpful checklist of everything you might need in the event of a hurricane. This includes a flashlight and batteries, a map, rain gear, cell phone and charger, medical supplies, pet supplies, sanitation supplies, and more.

    • During the storm, stay in a central room or on a room that's on the downwind side of the house

    • Close all windows and storm shutters


    • Always Heed Storm Warnings


Finally, and perhaps most importantly, be sure to keep an eye on the news and important updates during hurricane season. If officials are advising you to evacuate, you'll want to ensure that you're ready to go; even at a moment's notice. So be watchful and never underestimate the potential danger of a storm. As the old adage goes, it's always better to be safe than sorry.

No one wants to think about the event of a serious storm, but it's important to be prepared, and for landlords and tenants to both work together to help ensure safety -in terms of property and most importantly, lives. Taking steps towards preparedness, even at the risk of being over-prepared is always the best strategy, and can help to mitigate damage and prevent catastrophe should a hurricane hit.

Landlords and tenants: how do you prepare for hurricane season?


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