When you own rental properties in San Antonio, you have to be prepared for an emergency or a disaster. As many investors are learning now during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s much better to be prepared than to try and make major decisions in the heat of an emergency.
We’re talking about preparation today, and offering our San Antonio investors some of the easiest steps they can take to prevent and prepare for emergencies and disasters in the future. Sometimes we can see these things coming and sometimes they’re completely unexpected. It makes planning and preparation all the more critical.
Some of the steps you’ll want to take as a San Antonio rental property owner are:
Define the emergency.
Understand how to stop the emergency by knowing where shut-off valves are.
Know your resources such as hospitals and first responders.
Scan and save all your documentation in multiple places for easy access.
Let’s dive into each of these steps so you’ll know what to do in the event of a worst case scenario.
Define an Emergency by Legal Standards
Both you and your resident need to understand the legal definition of an emergency. In San Antonio, we follow the Texas Property Code. That law is very specific about what constitutes an emergency at the rental property and how a landlord is expected to respond. There will be timelines and standards that need to be met.
Make sure you know what an emergency is and what it isn’t. Make sure your residents know too.
For example, a stopped up bathroom in a house with multiple bathrooms is not an emergency. But, a stopped up bathroom in a house with only one bathroom is an emergency.
A light bulb that has burned out is definitely not an emergency.
You must communicate these standards to your resident so they know how to respond and what to expect in terms of repair times.
As a landlord, you want to respond to all maintenance issues as quickly as possible. However, emergencies will require a bit more urgency and speed, so it’s important that you know which things require you to drop everything and get to work on protecting your residents and your property.
Stop the Emergency from Getting Worse
You need to know where your shut off valves are, and then you need to tell your residents where to find them and how they work. If there’s a flood occurring at your property, you want to stop the water from coming in. Make sure your residents know how to safely do that. One of the best ways to communicate this information is to have that in the lease agreement. Take pictures of where exactly the valves are at the property and include those pictures in your lease and in your emergency plan. This is always a good idea, and during the lease renewal, you can send that information to your residents again as a refresher on where they are.
Understand the Resources Available
If there’s a fire, you want your residents to know how to exit the building. That’s going to be first thing they are thinking about when they hear the fire alarms go off or smell smoke. You also want them to understand how to reach Poison Control or the CDC or local hospitals.
Keep Important Information Accessible
This information you provide could be something that’s easy to glance at. Perhaps it’s a magnet the resident has on fridge or information that’s programmed into their phone. In the high-stress moment of an emergency, they may not have the time or the clarity to go digging for that information. It’s important to have it easily accessible. Even better is to have all that information scanned and uploaded in a digital format with other important documents. If there’s an emergency at the property and your residents can’t get back inside, electronic information is going to be the best.
If you’re working with a San Antonio property management company, make sure you discuss your emergency plans and disaster preparedness ahead of time. You want your property managers to be even more prepared than you are. You should also be sure to provide them with your best contact information, and make sure they know how to get in touch with your residents and the emergency contacts for those residents. Tell them what you want them to do with your property if a catastrophe happens. Everyone has to be in the loop, and over-communication is better than not communicating enough.
An organized response is a better response. As an owner, you don’t want to be sending repair people out to the property if the property manager has already done that. Make sure you understand who is responsible for what during a crisis.
If you have any questions about how to prepare your San Antonio rental property for an emergency or a disaster, please contact us at Mynd Property Management. We have a lot of great information, and we’re always happy to share it.