Natural Disasters and Rental Properties

A natural disaster can be described as an extreme natural phenomenon. They have the potential to cause massive property damage, loss of life and injury to people. Every year there are earthquakes, floods, droughts, tsunamis, hurricanes, and wildfires. All of these wreak havoc with properties.

To best prepare for natural disasters obviously depends of the region that the property is located in. A property owner should do some research on the disasters that can occur in that region. This is especially important if you are buying a rental property in another State or Country. Once you have a good understanding of potential disasters you can take steps to minimize the damage.

The first step is getting their property insured. If you have an insurance coverage already, you should go over your policy and speak to your agent about disaster insurance. While you may be covered for some damage automatically you may need to make specific arrangements for others. For example  floods and earthquakes require separate insurance coverage so you would need to have that mentioned in your policy.

Another way to prepare is to perform routine inspections of the property. Check for signs of wear around windows and gutters. These are often simple repairs that can prevent large scale damage. You should also have a look at the foundation for signs of cracks or sinking, have a professional assess any issues. Also be sure to inspect the roof and look for leaks or damage after any major storms, often your insurance company can provide this service.

Simple avoidance is another route you can take. In an earthquake prone area, don’t purchase something with freestanding structures or a unit in an apartment building. In a flood prone area don’t purchase anything without a pump and adequate drainage systems. Research the property and pull records to find if claims and repairs were done, check that they were done properly and if not make allowances to do them properly in your negotiations.

Providing your tenants with the proper tools can also be important. For example in a cold region you may want to provide a generator in case of a prolonged power outage. This will be a huge selling point to your tenants and will also ensure that water pipes don’t freeze and burst in the event of a disaster. Similarly supplying fire extinguishers ensures your tenants are prepared in the event of a small fire and it doesn’t turn into a disaster!

Natural disasters are difficult to predict, as a property owner you should be prepared for them before they happen.