Prepare Your Property for a Hurricane
What Landlords Should Do Before a Hurricane Hits
There are pros and cons of owning property. While the pros usually outweigh the cons, natural disasters are one of those times which can make us wonder why we thought property investing was such a great idea.
While hurricanes can cause intense devastation, they can usually be forecast days or even weeks in advance, allowing for some time to prepare. Here are some ways you can prepare your property before a hurricane strikes.
Have the Proper Insurance
The first thing you should do before you even close on a property is to obtain the proper insurance. You must make sure the insurance goes into effect the second you close on the property. Once a hurricane is on the radar, it is too late to get the proper insurance coverage.
Hurricane insurance is a must for those in hurricane prone areas. It is insurance that must be purchased separately from your normal homeowner’s insurance policy. Each policy is different, so you must discuss your options with your insurance agent. Hurricane insurance usually covers damage from wind, but be careful, because some policies only kick in for storms that are considered Category 2 or higher, or when winds exceed 75 miles per hour.
Hurricane policies typically do not cover damaged caused by flooding. So, if there is a storm surge or a river overflows, you will not be covered even if the damage occurred during the hurricane.
You must carry separate flood insurance to protect you.
Are You in a Flood Zone?
It is important to know if your property or properties are located in a flood zone. Most cities will offer maps which outline the flood zones in the area. The zones are defined according to risk. They may be labeled as Zone A, Zone B and Zone C, with Zone A having the greatest risk of flooding.
Other cities may characterize them using numbers such as 1, 2 and 3 or with words such as high risk, moderate risk and low risk.
In addition to looking at your local flood map, you should also know the elevation of your property. For example, your property may be located in a city that is known to flood, but if your property is high on a hill, the chances of it flooding may be greatly reduced.
If you are concerned that your property will flood, you can place sand bags in front of doors and around the perimeter of your property to attempt to keep flood waters out. You will also want to unplug any electronics in basements and move valuable items to higher ground if possible.
Hurricanes bring high winds which can cause windows to break. If your property is in a hurricane prone area you may consider having permanent storm shutters installed. These shutters can easily be closed to protect windows. If you do not have permanent storm shutters, you can board up windows with plywood. People often apply tape to windows thinking it will prevent them from breaking. This is not the case. The tape could possibly prevent the window from breaking into such small pieces, but it will not prevent hurricane damage to your property.
Take In All Outdoor Furniture
Check around the perimeter of your property for anything that could become airborne during the storm. The high winds which accompany hurricanes can catapult everyday objects into the air, damaging windows, property and even injuring people. Take in all outdoor furniture, umbrellas, garbage cans, rakes and anything else that could be propelled into the air. You should also scan your neighbors’ homes. If they have objects outside which could cause damage, you should approach them and make the subtle suggestion that they secure the objects or bring them indoors.
Check for Vulnerable Trees/Tree Branches
Check your property for dead trees, leaning trees or large branches that could fall due to high winds. If you are able to hire someone to remove them before the storm hits, you should do so.
If there is not time to have them professionally removed, you should take down any branches that you can reach safely.
You should make sure all gutters are clear from debris so water can drain properly. This will help prevent water from pooling and causing roof leaks and other flooding issues at the property.
Check the Roof
Your roof should be checked for any existing leaks or loose shingles. These issues should be remedied before the hurricane hits to help prevent further damage. You can also purchase roof clips or hurricane straps which can help keep the roof attached to the building structure.
Consider a Generator
You may want to consider purchasing a generator for your property. This will allow the tenants to run basic essentials if the power is out for a long period of time. Generators are not cheap, they can cost thousands of dollars, but after a disaster hits, you may be glad you invested in one.