Handling Emergencies and Disasters

Handling Emergencies and Disasters

In the property management world, emergencies that require prompt attention include loss of heat, gas leaks, water leaks causing flooding in the property, etc. – basically, it is anything that can endanger a tenant’s well-being. A disaster, however, would be a major flood, tornado, hurricane, tsunami, landslide, earthquake, or some other natural event or act of nature. This year, once again, many parts of the country have suffered devastating events that no one can stop, or even predict, such as severe heat, fires, flooding, and tornados. Hurricane season, for many, is here now.

Since you cannot avoid many emergencies or disasters, the only choice in our business is to be prepared with emergency procedures for when they happen. There are three key areas to plan – before, during, and after the event in question.

  1. Before the event
  • Plan emergency/disaster office procedures and train personnel.
  • Prepare tenants, whenever possible, on what to do in the event of an emergency/disaster.
  • Identify emergency services to call when the situation arises.
  • Identify vendors who will service the necessary repairs/cleanup.
  • Monitor reports when there are events predicted.

2.During the event

  • Implement office emergency/disaster procedures.
  • Monitor conditions closely as they are happening.
  • Keep all incoming lines open when possible.
  • Prioritize “emergencies” during any situation.
  • Counsel tenants as needed.
  • Initiate critical repairs.
  • Evacuate properties if necessary.
  • Close the office, if necessary, with recorded emergency instructions.

3.After the event

  • Determine the extent of the damage and cost of repairs/cleanup.
  • Notify owners as soon as practical.
  • Issue notices to vacate if the situation warrants.

What can the property owner do during an emergency or disaster?

  • Owners should check yearly to ensure they have adequate insurance needed for emergency/disaster situations, and that their property manager is added to the policy as a named insured. The insurance company should not charge a fee for doing this.
  • If advised of necessary preparations that would help the property or a pending situation, heed them.
  • When an emergency/disaster occurs, it is crucial to understand that the property manager must handle the situation first and notify owners when the situation allows.
  • If it is a disaster situation, it is important to avoid repeated calls, tying up crucial telephone lines and demanding to know the situation. Unnecessary calls could interrupt important actions that may affect your property.
  • Be patient during the aftermath of any major situation. It takes time to figure out the best solution, such as the tenant’s immediate needs, what vendor can do the repairs, and how long the work will require. In some situations, it can take months to obtain the services of contractors and complete the work.
  • Work with your insurance company to assist the property manager. Some companies want to communicate only with the owner of the property so your help may be needed to get repairs started.
  • Extend support to your property manager when it is necessary to evacuate the tenant for their safety and to repair the property. This can also reduce liability to you.
  • Always remember, the property manager’s FIRST priority is the safety of the tenant.

While no one likes to think about an emergency or disaster, much less experience one, being prepared in advance wherever possible, taking each step at a time, and working in partnership with your property manager will serve to help these events reach a satisfactory resolution. Front Porch Property Management is ready to assist you with your property management needs and the safety of your tenants and property. Please give us a call at 770-789-5006.