Preparing Your Property and Planning for the Unexpected

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 02 July 2019 12:55

It goes without saying that for a property manager or landlord resident safety and asset protection are top priorities. Because disasters and mishaps can come without notice, here are seven quick tips to simplify preparing your property and planning for the unexpected. 

Be Proactive

The secret to keeping it all together in the day-to-day and during the odd or catastrophic event is to be proactively ready. That type of preparation affords a property manager or landlord to act professionally and with authority during a crisis. Being the voice of reason and calm in crisis can put tenants at ease, mitigate damages and injury, and assist with the overall stability of the situation. 


It’s easy to put off research, analysis, and planning activities as days get busy with hands-on urgent matters. Being reactive can consume an entire reservoir of time whereas scheduling priorities proactively may bring a sense of control to the hectic office environment. 

Know Your Property Type and Needs

When it comes down to disaster planning, it’s important to take into consideration the property types within the portfolio. For instance, an apartment or condominium complex will need the stairwells clearly marked with diagrams for emergency exits. Whereas mobile home parks will need a vigilant plan to keep vegetation and personal items cleared between homes to mitigate fire-hazards. Other considerations would include knowing where the shut-off valves and location of breaker boxes are for any and all types of properties. 

Consider the Risks

There are two distinct types of disaster planning: worst-case scenario and likelihood planning. Which should the savvy landlord conduct? Both! 


Worst-Case Scenario Planning


Take into account regional natural disasters such as wild-fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes, etc. as well as any possible chance happenings. Then, think about the worst-case scenario for each. 


This high-level disaster planning can help expose areas of the property maintenance that need attention in the near term that otherwise might not have been revealed. Besides, being ready for the large catastrophes facilitates preparation for the smaller ones. 


Likelihood Planning


As not every property in every season will face a large calamity; more than likely smaller inconveniences will occur and planning for those are critical to the care of your assets and residents. 


Audit the neighborhood for potential crime, gang violence, and vandalism. Consider the age of the infrastructure and utilities and create plans for leaks, rodents, pool or water pump, HVAC, internet, or security system outages, etc.  Additionally, flooding caused by sewer backup, and tenant caused flooding, and other plumbing issues may arise.

Don’t forget to think about human error or resource limitations. Landlords and on-site property managers may want to create a contingency plan in the event of a serious illness or vacation. 

Consult Local, Federal, and State Regulations

Safety first isn’t just a good idea, it might be the law. In the case of an emergency, if the property or tenants are left unprepared or under-attended a property owner or management company may be liable. The three areas of research recommended would be confirming code compliance, knowledge or and adherence to state, federal and local regulations, and understanding and covering liabilities. 


Check with your local housing authority, local emergency services, attorney, insurance carrier, and other advisors to make sure all bases are covered. Some disasters can be avoided with knowledge and a proactive maintenance plan.

Create a Prepared Team

Once a plan has been created taking into account all the possible scenarios, the state of the structures and infrastructures, legal issues, and the like, it’s now time to prepare your emergency response team. 


Designate a person(s) to be the point of contact when you are unavailable. Larger property management companies might consider cross-training employees so that one person doesn’t hold all the critical information.  


If possible, illicit support and extra hands from volunteers. Encourage tenants, employees, and onsite managers to participate in local Neighborhood Watch programs and/or a Community Emergency. 


In addition to continuing education and certifications for property management and licensures, advocate for additional training related to emergency response such as CPR and First Aid. It’s also important to stay current and informed regarding industry-specific news and information.

Put it in Writing

Create Tenant, office, and responders handbook. The copy the resident receives should offer instructions not only for emergencies but also for the care and maintenance of their home; such as garbage disposal care for example. 


Work with an insurance carrier and other outside agencies to ensure your plan is complete and compliant with any policies, rules and/or regulations. Be sure to have these handbooks available in electronic formats as well as hard-copy to distribution. 

Take Action

Having a plan is the first step but is meaningless without action. Be sure to conduct routine inspections. Maintain checklists to avoid missing critical concerns such as changing batteries and conducting tests on smoke and fire alarms, and CO2 monitors. Create a schedule for seasonal removing of snow, fallen leaves, clearing drainage and gutters, and the like.


Perform periodic and regular property maintenance. Keep stocked batteries, flashlights, water, and consider providing backup generators. Most importantly, keep in good communication with residents and provide important information for their safety and well-being.   


Expected the unexpected: hope for the best--plan for the worst--prepare for the likely. This motto is a great start to providing the best of care for a property portfolio and the residents who call it home. 

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