Landlords and investors need to be prepared for any potential emergency at their rental property in Tampa. The area is known for its hurricanes and dramatic tropical weather. There are also maintenance emergencies and health emergencies like the recent coronavirus pandemic to manage. Preparing properly for an emergency can make a big difference in the damage that’s done. Today, we’re helping you understand the types of things you need to think about and prepare for when you own investment properties in the Tampa area.
Define an Emergency with Your Resident
The first and perhaps most obvious thing to do is to understand the definition of an emergency. You need to understand what constitutes an emergency, and you need to make sure your resident understands what constitutes an emergency. It’s important to be on the same page.
For example, a clogged toilet is an emergency in a single-family home with only one bathroom. But, if the home has two or more bathrooms, that one clogged toilet is less of an emergency. You still want the resident to report it, and you want to make sure it gets your attention as soon as possible. But, it’s less of an emergency than a clogged toilet in a one-bathroom home.
Water is always going to be a big emergency for your property. Water damage, either from a storm or from a leak can damage a house and destroy personal property. A leak is always an emergency and should be resolved as soon as possible.
Talk to your resident about how a legal emergency is defined. There are always going to be habitability laws that drive how quickly you must respond to a maintenance emergency. You need to go beyond the legal definition when you’re preparing for an emergency, however. A broken pipe, for example, may not meet the legal definition of an emergency, but if you leave it alone for several days or weeks, it’s going to become a bigger problem.
Set expectations with your residents. Have a conversation about what’s an emergency and what isn’t, and then continue to communicate about these things.
Move-In Orientation with Residents
At Mynd Property Management, we always make a point of doing a move-in orientation for residents after they’ve signed a lease for one of our properties. We make sure the resident is familiar with the home. We walk through the property and show the resident where to find the turn-off valves for the water. If a toilet is overflowing or a pipe bursts, we want the residents to feel empowered to stop the water. They’re trained to turn off the water and then call our property management team.
Teaching your residents how to stop the problem and make sure it doesn’t get any worse can save you a lot of damage and expense. You want to take the time to make sure your residents are comfortable moving in and familiar with the house so they can take care of the first few steps during an emergency. It should be part of your preparation process, and it’s part of setting expectations with your residents.
Also, make sure the breakers are part of your orientation process. Your residents need to know where those breakers are because if they suddenly lose power to half the house, they’ll think it’s an emergency. But, if the fix is as easy as resetting the breakers, the emergency has been solved before the management company or maintenance team was even called. Educating your residents is an important part of finding simple resolutions. You also want your residents to be responsible and accountable.
Trying to explain to someone where the gas line or the water valve is during an emergency can be especially tough, especially when they don’t know what they’re looking for. This is why the education process is so important. Get the residents familiar with the house before they move in. Take pictures or provide a video that shows them exactly what to do. When they know where to find things and how to operate them, you’re going to cut down on the number of emergency calls you get to your Tampa rental property.
Landlords Must be Available During Emergencies
As a landlord or a rental property owner in Tampa, you have to be available to your residents and your property 24 hours a day and seven days a week. If any emergency happens, your residents must be able to reach you. Make sure you’re setting yourself up as a resource to your residents. It’s the only way to resolve emergencies and protect your property.
Answer your phone calls and check your messages. Make sure your residents have all the pertinent emergency contact information that they need. This includes not only your information, but also the phone numbers for local fire and police departments, the CDC, the Poison Control, the Health Department, and all the local hospitals and medical response teams.
Depending on the emergency, the authorities will be the first phone call your resident makes. You don’t want them calling you first if the house is burning down. You want to be sure they understand they should first get out of the house and then call the fire department or 9-1-1.
Protect Important Documents and Information
Finally, make sure your essential documentation is organized and safe. It’s good to keep the paper copies in a filing cabinet, but if your house is on fire or flooding, you may not be able to get to the documents you need. You should always scan it or take photos of it or keep it in an electronic format that’s always accessible. You may need insurance policies and identification; make sure you can access what you might need. It’s important to take the extra step to protect your information and documentation. It may feel tedious, but the extra preparation is worth it.
A good landlord in Tampa will make sure to be available during emergencies. They will also make sure residents are educated and empowered. A preventative approach will always reduce the impact of any emergency.
If you have any questions about how to prepare for an emergency at your rental property in Tampa, please contact us at Mynd Property Management. We are here to help you with any of your Tampa property management needs.