A Landlord’s Guide to Natural Disaster Preparation

A Landlord’s Guide to Natural Disaster Preparation

Between 2019 and 2021, the United States experienced 56 natural disasters, each exceeding $1 billion in losses. 2021 alone saw $145 billion in damages, making it the third-highest cost year on record.

If you’re a rental property manager considering a natural disaster prep plan – the time is now. In fact, preparing your rental homes for disaster is crucial to your financial well-being and tenants’ safety. 

Keep reading for tips on protecting your rental home during disasters. We’ll discuss the importance of landlord insurance and storm preparation plans, so you’ll have peace of mind when a natural disaster strikes.

Make Sure You Have Landlord Insurance

Landlord insurance is a type of insurance policy designed to protect rental property owners from financial damages. Landlord liability coverage protects you if a renter sues for an incident on your property. Property coverage helps you pay for damage from natural disasters.

Your tenants likely have renters insurance, which covers the personal property they keep in the home. Most insurance companies offer both types of coverage – each of which is equally as important to you as a landlord.

Landlord insurance is critical to natural disaster preparedness. Without a policy, you’ll pay for property damages out of pocket. You’ll also lose your stream of income if the property becomes uninhabitable. With a landlord insurance plan, you’ll have financial assistance to repair your property and compensate for income loss.

If you own a home you aren’t yet renting out, ensure you have adequate coverage to prepare for the worst. 

Homeowners insurance is crucial to your financial well-being – especially if you live in a region prone to natural disasters. Homeowners insurance covers harm to your belongings and structural damage from perils. 

Perils are catastrophes like wildfires, tornadoes, and lightning strikes that can leave your home in shambles. These plans are subject to deductibles before your coverage kicks in. However, you’ll likely meet your deductible if faced with major home repairs.

If you have a home warranty plan, that’s an excellent way to afford wear and tear on your household appliances. However, these plans won’t help you when natural catastrophes strike – so traditional insurance is a must.

Preparation for Common Natural Disasters

Now that you understand how landlord insurance can protect your rental property and finances, we’ll review the tactical steps you can take to prepare for natural disasters, like:

  • Hurricanes
  • Tornadoes
  • Floods
  • Blizzards
  • Wildfires
  • Earthquakes

The following sections will provide tips for preparing an emergency plan for your rental home. Remember that most of the natural disaster prep process is up to the tenant; they’re the main player in ensuring their home – rented or owned – is ready for mayhem. However, you can provide them with some tools and advice to keep them as safe as possible on the property.

Hurricanes

A hurricane is a severe storm characterized by high winds and heavy rain. These monstrous storms form in coastal areas and grow stronger as they rotate over warm waters. Major hurricanes bring wind speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour, making them especially dangerous to coastal homes. Hurricane preparation is a must if your rental property is near the East Coast or the Gulf of Mexico.

How To Prepare

      • Learn more about the area’s hurricane season. This period typically ranges from May to November but differs depending on the region.
      • Prepare a list of emergency contact information and a supply kit with nonperishable food items, water, medicine, phone chargers, flashlights, and important documents.
      • Identify an evacuation route and plan for all people and pets in the home.
  • Remove tall trees or far-reaching limbs from around the home.
  • Tie down outdoor furniture or bring it indoors.
  • Install storm shutters that prevent window glass from shattering into the home.
  • Protect the home’s exterior from strong winds by installing roof clips and garage door braces.
  • Anchor down outdoor propane tanks.
  • Provide a container for emergency water storage. 
  • Install and monitor the home’s carbon monoxide detectors.

Tornadoes

A tornado is a violent, rotating funnel of clouds that forms from an existing storm. You must prepare your rental property for tornado damage – especially if you have tenants in Tornado Alley. This region in the Central United States is at higher risk of tornado formation than anywhere else in the country.

Tornadoes intensify the effects of a severe thunderstorm. The most intense tornadoes can send cars flying through the air and turn shards of trees and glass into bullets. For these reasons, tornado prep is vital to your rental home and tenants’ well-being.

How To Prepare

      • Identifying the safest place to hide during the storm.
      • Compiling a first aid kit for cuts or scrapes from flying debris.
      • Turning off utility switches and valves.
      • Storing important documents and belongings in a waterproof container.
  • Secure exterior walls to the home’s foundation with bolts and wall studs.
  • Install roof clips to prevent the roof from flying off.
  • Cut away large trees and branches that could damage the roof or nearby power lines.
  • Ensure that at least one room in the home has no windows.
  • Arrange furniture away from exterior walls.
  • Secure shelving and cabinets with brackets or eyebolts.
  • Anchor appliances with metal cables or straps. 

Floods

As a rental property manager, you should keep your area’s flood risk on your radar.

Riverine floods occur when a river overflows from heavy rainfall, melting snow, or a burst dam. You should beware of riverine flooding if your rental property sits near a river or on a flood plain.

States prone to hurricanes are at the highest risk for coastal flooding disasters. Coastal flooding occurs when a storm sends seawater rushing inland. Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana are among the top states for flooding and water damage in the U.S. 

Flood damage worsens when the water recedes into its source. The water can wash away crops, transport hazardous materials, trigger landslides, and create rampant breeding grounds for mold and mosquitoes. 

Visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center for information on your area’s flood risk.

How To Prepare

  • Provide tenants with a flood evacuation plan and encourage them to locate community resources. Encourage your renters to:
    • Keep an emergency supply of food, water, and other important items handy.
    • Turn off utilities in the event of a flood.
    • Bring outdoor furniture and appliances inside or tie them down.
  • Install electrical outlets at least a foot above the area’s flood elevation.
  • Equip plumbing systems with backflow valves to prevent floodwater from entering.
  • Anchor down indoor and outdoor fuel tanks to prevent them from breaking and washing away.

Blizzards

Severe winter storms, called blizzards, are characterized by high winds, low visibility, and heavy snowfall. Blizzard prep is crucial for rental homes in areas of heavy snowfall, such as the upper Midwest region of the U.S. Great Plains.

Blizzards are dangerous to homes because they can cause roof damage from snow accumulation and water damage from melting ice. They can also cause power outages and snow buildup, leaving tenants trapped inside with no electricity.

How To Prepare

      • Prepare extra blankets, winter coats, sleeping bags, and a portable space heater in the event of a power outage.
      • Allow taps to drip continuously to keep the water supply flowing.
      • Avoid opening doors and windows when possible; this allows precious heat to escape.
      • Have a supply kit with food, water, chargers, flashlights, etc.
  • Ensure the home’s roof slopes enough to allow melting snow to run off instead of accumulating. Consider adding a sloping structure to flat roof areas like awnings and porch coverings.
  • Insulate plumbing around exterior walls to prevent pipes from freezing. 
  • Weatherproof the windows with caulking and insulation.
  • Prevent roof damage by removing large tree branches near the home.
  • Install fire and carbon monoxide detectors if a stove or fireplace heats the home. 
  • Provide a fire extinguisher for your tenants to keep on hand.
  • Have furnaces, vents, and chimneys inspected yearly to ensure all heat sources operate properly.

Wildfires

A wildfire is a fire that burns uncontrollably throughout natural vegetation. 

These disasters often start as ground fires that ignite in hot, highly organic soil and burn under the earth’s surface. Surface fires are wildfires that light and spread rapidly from plant to plant. Lastly, crown fires work to treetops and burn through canopies. 

According to the Insurance Information Institute, approximately 4.5 million U.S. homes are at high risk of wildfire damage. States with hot, dry weather, such as California, Arizona, and Texas, are most prone to these catastrophes.

How To Prepare

  • Develop a wildfire preparedness plan for your tenants, encouraging them to:
    • Compile an emergency supply kit and first aid kit.
    • Develop an evacuation plan.
  • Ensure windows and doors have operable locks.
  • Close metal blinds and take down flammable window treatments.
  • Place furniture away from exterior walls, where possible.
  • Move fuel containers and grills away from the house.
  • Ensure your tenants have access to fire extinguishers and emergency ladders.
  • Seal attics and air vents with fireproof insulation.

Earthquakes

An earthquake occurs when the earth’s plates shift, causing the ground to shake violently. These events are dangerous because they can result in collapsed buildings, shifted foundations, and falling trees.

Properties near the San Andreas Fault in California are most prone to earthquake damage. Other earthquake risk regions include Alaska’s southern coast, Hawaii Island, the Southern U.S., and the Central Mississippi River Valley.

How To Prepare

  • Provide tenants with an earthquake safety plan, instructing them to:
    • Store an emergency supply of food and water.
    • Develop an evacuation plan.
    • Assemble a first aid kit and emergency contact list.
  • Anchor shelving and cabinets to the wall.
  • Install childproof latches on cabinet doors to keep glassware from tumbling out.
  • Secure large appliances with cables or metal straps.
  • Avoid decorating with glass items near sleeping or sitting areas.
  • Use T and L straps to secure the home’s joints and beams
  • Inspect chimneys, retaining walls, and roofs for loose building materials.
  • Reinforce roof and ceiling materials with bolts and plywood.

Additional Natural Disaster Preparation Resources

The table below provides additional resources to get you and your tenants through a natural disaster. As you know, preparation is key – so it’s best to know what support is available before catastrophes unfold.

Resource About
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)  FEMA is a United States federal agency dedicated to developing strategic disaster preparedness plans and relief resources. The agency operates with the goal of “helping people before, during, and after disasters.” 
American Red Cross Disaster Relief The American Red Cross Disaster Relief program provides victims with aid, resources, and support after disasters. The organization also offers a shelter program for disaster victims needing emergency housing.
Ready.gov Ready is a public service campaign that empowers Americans to take disaster preparedness into their own hands through information, planning, and community collaboration.
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) The NFIP provides flood insurance plans to help landlords and renters plan for the worst. Flood damage isn’t covered by traditional homeowners insurance, so this extra coverage is crucial for combating devastating damage.

 

Other Home Warranty Resources

Home Warranty

5 Best Home Warranties for Roof Coverage (2022)

Most roof leaks aren’t covered by home insurance, so a home warranty is a good way to protect yourself from the cost of roof repairs.

Home Warranty

5 Best Home Warranty Companies for Pool Coverage (2022)

Owning a pool can be fun, but when issues occur, you could be left footing the bill. Here’s the scoop on pool warranties to see if they’re right for you.

Exterior of small American house with blue paint and red entrance door. Northwest, USA
Costs and Coverage

5 Best Home Warranty Companies for Rental Properties (2022)

Are you a landlord? Use our guide to find the best home warranty for your rental property that will save you thousands in home repairs and maintenance.

Home Warranty

5 Best Home Warranty Companies for Plumbing (2022)

A plumbing warranty can protect you from costly pipe leaks and stoppages. Read on for the top five best home warranty companies for plumbing coverage on the market.

Home Warranty

5 Best Home Warranty Companies for Septic Systems (2022)

If you're looking for a septic warranty, read this review to learn about coverage and costs.

Home Warranty

5 Best Home Warranty Companies for Condos (2022)

Looking for protection on your condo's major appliances and systems? Read our complete guide to find the most affordable and best home warranty for condos.

Home Warranty

5 Best Home Warranties for Older Homes (2022)

Owning or renting an older home can come with older appliances and systems. Can those be covered by a home warranty? Our guide breaks it down.

Home Warranty

5 Best Home Warranty Companies for Mobile Homes (2022)

Learn more about mobile home warranties available and how homeowners can get the best home warranty coverage for their manufactured home’s appliances and systems.

Bright kitchen room with steel appliances and granite tops. Northwest, USA
Home Warranty

Does a Home Warranty Cover Pre-Existing Conditions?

Most often, a home warranty will only cover undetectable pre-existing issues. Read on to learn more about the best home warranties for pre-existing conditions.