Managing a rental property often means having to roll with the punches of unexpected challenges. But in the case of an actual emergency, are you and your rental property ready to weather the storm? Creating a plan centered around emergency preparedness for rental properties is critical for property managers in the Portland area. Here’s what you need to know.
Assess Your Property’s Risks and Vulnerabilities
The first step in ensuring emergency preparedness for rental properties is assessing your property’s unique risks. Disasters will impact every property differently. As a result, conducting a thorough survey of your rental’s vulnerabilities will help you determine the best way to prepare.
Look for the following during your inspection:
- Immediate risks. An initial assessment of your property could turn up a few primary concerns. These might involve trees that have grown too close to your building, an aging roof. Keep an eye out for standing water as well, which could be weakening your foundation.
- Outdated fixtures and systems. If your rental is an older home, the pipes or electrical could be risk factors. Bursting pipes and electrical fires may be even more likely in a disaster, and updates can help mitigate potential damage.
- General safety hazards. You should always make sure that your rental has functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, clear exits in case of emergency, and no potential hazards which could cause injury during an emergency.
Prevention and Preparation
Once you’ve assessed your property’s risk factors, there are two essential steps to take. First, develop an emergency plan for your tenants. Distribute emergency preparedness information before disaster strikes, and be ready to send it again in times of higher risk.
In addition, you should study your insurance carefully. Though you can prepare your property to survive many disasters, at the end of the day, it can be impossible to know how an emergency will impact your rental. As a result, having insurance to protect your investment is always wise. Make sure that you are keeping up to date with all necessary preventative measures that could cause your claim to be denied. You should also consider requiring your tenants to have rental insurance to further protect yourself and your renters.
When it comes to making practical preparations around your property, there are several steps you can take. Many of them depend on the type of emergency you’re preparing for.
What Emergencies Should Portland Landlords Prepare For?
It’s impossible to know when a disaster might strike. However, particular areas may be more prone to certain weather or natural events, and you can prioritize your preparation strategy for those situations.
As we face longer and more devastating wildfire seasons, Portland landlords ought to be prepared for the possibility of a wildfire impacting their property. Incidents such as the 2017 Eagle Creek fire burned over 50,000 acres of land due to misused fireworks. The fact that human activity caused 90% of wildfires in recent years means that it can be very difficult to determine when and where a fire may break out next.
- Ensure your roof, siding, and windows are all up to date. Modern materials are more resistant to fire, and a newer, fire-resistant roof can make the difference between your property surviving a wildfire or being wholly consumed.
- Ensure your tenants are aware of what to do in an emergency evacuation.
- Clean your gutters before fire season starts, and seal your house’s exterior with fire-resistant caulk.
- Create a fire-resistant perimeter around the building. This might mean removing shrubs and other growths within a certain distance of your rental to help prevent fire from spreading. If wildfires spread to the area and an evacuation seems imminent, clearing flammable materials away from the house becomes even more crucial.
In general, the biggest concern in our Pacific Northwest winters is ensuring properties can weather the long months of steady rain. However, in the past few years, we’ve seen some intense winter storms roll through, causing severe damage and shutting down the city for days at a time.
To avoid damage or disruptions from winter storms:
- Take care of any potential safety concerns around your property. Slippery external stairs, loose railings, or gutters in poor repair could all become serious dangers in an ice storm.
- Make sure your rental’s heating is up to date. If the heating fails when temperatures drop, you could be required to pay for your tenants to stay somewhere warm until it can be repaired–costing you money.
Wind storms in our area have caused downed trees, power outages, and serious disruptions across the city. To protect your rental from high winds, consider the following:
- Install storm shutters. These will protect windows during high wind events.
- Prune or remove trees situated too close to the building itself. In the case of a wind storm, branches or entire trees could come crashing down onto your roof, causing damage and potential harm to residents. Dead or diseased trees are especially at risk.
Though our area is not prone to frequent earthquakes, many people are concerned about the Cascadia subduction zone just off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. This fault line will likely cause a large-scale earthquake, and experts believe there’s a 37% chance the quake will happen in the next 50 years.
The implications of a large earthquake could be dramatic in our area, especially because Portland architecture was not generally built with earthquakes in mind. However, there are a few steps you can take to help make sure your property is set up to emerge without major damage:
- Make sure your building is up to code. This will prepare it for the structural stresses an earthquake will inflict.
- Update your house’s pipes and electrical system to be more resilient to earthquake damage.
A Property Manager Is There For You Through Thick and Thin
In good times and bad, your property manager is here to make sure that your experience renting your property goes as smoothly as possible. This might mean coping with the day-to-day difficulties of running a rental, such as tenant disputes or seasonal maintenance. But in the midst of an emergency or disaster, you’ll be glad to have a property manager helping guide you to the other side. Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew helps landlords in Portland weather curve balls from nature, the economy, and more. If you’d like more information on how we can keep your rental resilient and maximize emergency preparedness for rental properties, reach out by phone or our website at any time.