If you’re a Portland investor preparing for an emergency and you’re not sure what kind of information you’ll need to think about, we have some answers today. It’s always better to be over-prepared for an emergency or a disaster, and you want to make sure you have plans in place to protect your residents and your investment property.
Evaluate Your Insurance Policy and Protections
Start by making sure you have your insurance information up to date.
That insurance information needs to be handy and clear, especially your umbrella insurance policy. When you’re thinking about how to prevent the worst case scenarios, you know that it’s always a good time to have insurance discussions with your agent and your financial advisors. Talk to your Portland property manager about all the things that you need to be thinking about. Make sure you have enough insurance so you can deal with any potential emergency without stressing about a lack of insurance.
Portland has a unique geographical and environmental position, which means some bigger issues can come through the area. We have big wind storms and some very large trees. It’s not uncommon for large tree branches to crash through roofs and destroy windows. We have heavy rains, too, which can have a dramatic effect on properties. Many of our large Douglas fir trees are 100 feet tall. If one of those falls across a street, there can be massive problems throughout an entire neighborhood.
There’s nothing you can do to prevent a lot of the disasters you’ll find yourself managing. But, if you have a good insurance plan in place, you won’t have to worry about how you’re going to recover financially from the loss.
Ideally, your resident will have renters insurance as well. If you don’t already require renters insurance, it’s a good idea to talk about it with your residents now. You don’t want to advise them on the importance of insurance when all of their personal property has already been destroyed. Help them to prepare financially as well.
Water and Gas Emergency Responses
When Portland is struck with a severe ice storm, you may not be able to get to your investment property. You have to think about what you can do from wherever you are, and you need to be prepared for these things before they happen. Make sure the exterior pipes at your investment property are insulated and not in danger of freezing. It’s also a good idea to have bags of salt available at the property so your residents can melt the ice and snow from walkways. That’s going to reduce the potential for slip and fall accidents.
Residents need to know where the shut off valves are for your property. As simple as it sounds, you might find it surprising how many residents don’t know how to shut off the water right there under the kitchen sink or next to the toilet. Before they figure things out and call for maintenance, make sure they know exactly how to prevent a larger flood and a bigger problem than you need.
Educate your residents before the catastrophe strikes. Let them know how to shut off water to the entire house, and show them where the valves are.
There are other common things that you and your residents need to know. Usually we don’t think about these things until there is a disaster or an emergency. Make sure your residents know how to find the closest local hospital. They’ll need to know how to reach the fire department and the police department. It seems like these numbers would be easy enough to call up on a smart phone, but what if cell service is down and there’s no internet? We have no idea what type of disaster could actually strike, so you need to have these resources and contact numbers in the property on a sheet of paper. Information will be incredibly valuable during a disaster.
With something like the current coronavirus pandemic, it’s especially important to have a list of health services available. It should include the CDC center as well. Let your residents feel prepared and educated.
Keep Calm and Create a Manual
You don’t think about all these things in the heat of the moment, so it’s important to think about them prior to something bad happening. While in the middle of the crisis, pre-planning can help you remain calm.
Create a disaster manual or an emergency procedure manual that’s prepared and ready to go. Even if it’s only a one or two-page document, at least you have that guideline. You won’t have to feel frazzled in the heat of battle. You’ll know where to turn and you’ll trust that the information and the process that you need is already spelled out.
It’s important that your residents feel the same sense of calm and security. They need to be prepared too. Make sure they can easily access the phone number for the hospital or the natural gas utility company. You want your residents to know what to do if they notice a gas leak or smell rotten eggs in the house. Like you, they won’t be thinking about what they need to do in the middle of a disaster. If it’s already available to them, the planning will help them stay calm and proactive.
No one likes to think about the worst possible thing happening. But, being prepared and taking some time to put emergency plans in place can save your investment property and keep your tenants safe. We are always advising owners to treat their rental properties like a business. You should do that, but you also have to remember that you have residents living inside that investment. Think ahead for yourself and for them.
Thank you for joining us. If you’d like to know more about how to prepare for an emergency and protect your Portland rental property, please contact us at Mynd Property Management.