As hurricane season approaches in Florida, property owners, and managers need to prepare themselves for the threat of extreme weather events. With so many rental properties concentrated in Florida’s coastal communities, it’s important for rental property owners in the Sunshine State to understand how to prepare for and respond to various scenarios during hurricane season. As a full-service residential and commercial property management firm in Jacksonville, FL for over 16 years, managing long-term rentals in communities like Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach, and St. Augustine, our team at Spectrum Realty Services, LLC, has certainly seen a fair share of storm-related threats bear down on Northeast Florida. Here’s what you need to know to protect your rental property and your business.
Managing Risk in Coastal Florida
The state of Florida is no stranger to hurricanes. With its long coastline, Florida has a high risk of hurricanes and tropical storms. These storms can cause severe damage to properties, leaving rental property owners with hefty repair bills and lost rental income. That’s why it’s important to be proactive and have a plan in place for hurricane season.
BEFORE HURRICANE SEASON: PREPARING YOUR RENTAL PROPERTY
The Atlantic Hurricane Season is active from June 1st through November 30th, but severe weather does occur both before and after those dates. Ideally, you’ll want to get your hurricane preparation plans completed in place in May.
Property Risk Assessment
The first step to preparing for the hurricane season is to assess your property’s risk of damage. You or your property manager should inspect the property and identify any areas that may be vulnerable to wind or water damage. This includes checking the roof for leaks and ensuring that all windows and doors are properly fitted, sealed, and secure. For properties nearer to the coastline, you may consider installing impact-resistant windows and doors, and hurricane shutters, if possible. You also want to trim back any trees or branches that might be susceptible to falling on the property during a storm.
Emergency Home Essentials
Remind your tenants to equip themselves with emergency supplies in the event that water or electricity go out for extended periods of time. Items to collect include bottled water, non-perishable food, batteries, device chargers, flashlights and extra containers, such as buckets or jugs to transport water for bathing, flushing toilets, etc. A simple reminder such as this will go a long way with improving and maintaining a high level of customer service and tenant relations.
Evacuation Plan for Tenants
Another invaluable asset is to for tenants to have is a plan in place for evacuating in case of a mandatory evacuation order. Property managers can also help with this by creating a list of emergency contacts, such as local hotels or shelters, and providing tenants with detailed instructions on what to do in case of a storm.
The Critical Need for Property Insurance
Finally, it is imperative to ensure that your property has adequate insurance coverage. In Florida, this means standard property insurance, in combination with additional policies for flood and windstorms. You need to know what flood zone your property sits in to understand what kind of insurance is required and what rates you might be expected to pay and also be aware that many companies stop issuing new policies as hurricane season approaches. Property owners should review their insurance policies with their insurance or property management company, to ensure that they are properly and fully covered in the event of damage from a hurricane.
IMMEDIATELY BEFORE AND DURING A HURRICANE OR TROPICAL STORM
Once a hurricane is confirmed to be on its way, property managers need to take immediate action to protect the property and its tenants. This might include boarding up windows and doors, securing loose items, and turning off utilities to avoid electrical hazards. It is also smart to photograph or even better – videotape – the inside and outside of the property including its furniture and other contents. Property managers should also stay informed about the hurricane’s progress and provide updates to tenants.
AFTER THE STORM
Once the hurricane or tropical weather event has passed, property managers need to assess the damage to the property and make any necessary repairs. This might include fixing roof leaks, replacing damaged windows and doors, and repairing any water damage. It’s important to act quickly to minimize any further damage and restore the property to its pre-storm condition.
USING A LOCAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY TO MANAGE YOUR RENTALS
Managing rental properties at any time can be a challenging task, but during hurricane season, in Florida, it can be even more daunting, especially for property owners who may not be overly familiar with the area or the risks involved. That’s why you may want to consider working with a professional local property management company that has experience managing rental properties in beaches, and other coastal communities (Don’t forget about rental properties that exist along rivers, lakes, marshes, and other bodies of water; in low-lying areas; or even on higher ground, that may be exposed to wind damage during hurricane season!).
A property management company can help rental property owners prepare for hurricane season to better protect the property and its tenants, minimize damage, and promote safety. After the storm, a property management company can coordinate repairs and restoration efforts, ensuring that the property gets back to its pre-storm condition as quickly as possible. This can help rental property owners minimize their losses and get back to generating rental income.
If you need assistance managing your rental property in Jacksonville or elsewhere in Northeast Florida, call the pros at Spectrum Realty Services, LLC. We have experience across all areas of residential, commercial and association property management, and can be relied upon to help you maximize the return on your rental property investments. Call 904-389-7311 today or visit us online at spectrumrealtypm.com.