Are you prepared for an emergency? Severe weather can happen at any time and it’s important that Dallas landlords have prepared their tenants and rental units for just such instances in Dallas property management. Residents were shocked when in June earlier this year, one person was killed and several were injured after high winds, hail, and an intense thunderstorm caused a crane to collapse onto a downtown Dallas apartment building. This disaster left all these apartment residents essentially homeless for days.
In 2017, Texas residents along the coast and in the city of Houston experienced major flooding and winds up to 130 mph when Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane. “Harvey became the country’s first major—Category 3 or higher—hurricane since Wilma hit Florida in October 2005 and the first major hurricane to strike southern Texas since Celia in 1970.”
So, how do you make sure your tenants aren’t panicked in such situations?
Know the Risks
Here in the Dallas area, potential emergency situations include severe storms, tornadoes, pandemic or public health emergencies, hail, flooding, extreme temperatures, hazardous material incidents, winter storms, utility failures, wildlife, energy/fuel shortages, lightning strikes, and terrorist attacks.
When disaster strikes, you are the first responder. As a renter, this is sometimes easy to forget since someone else owns your rental home. There is very little anyone but you can do about your own situation in the immediate aftermath of an emergency. So, you are your own emergency response team.
Dallas Property Management: In An Emergency
When a potential emergency situation occurs, it’s almost always too late to gather the suggested supplies. When a hurricane warning or tornado warning is broadcast, most grocery stores are inundated with people rushing to buy bottled water, canned food, etc. The best thing you can do is to be prepared and have emergency supplies ahead of time.
Prepare a 72-hour Kit
You should have enough supplies to last you the first 72 hours during an emergency situation. You will need a kit for each member of your household. Put as much of it on wheels as possible so it’s portable and include at least the following items in each kit:
- Three gallons of drinking water
- Three-day supply of food
- Wool-blanket or sleeping bag
- An LED flashlight
- Batteries for three days
- A self-powered AM/FM radio
- First-aid supplies, medications, and prescriptions
- Extra clothing
- Some cash and change
- Emergency documents and important papers
- Pet food, vet records, and a photo of your pet (if you have one)
Store the emergency kits in a place where everyone knows or consider putting them in the trunk of a car where they are easily accessible. Go to TexasReady.org for a more extensive and specific checklist.
If You’re Told to Evacuate
In certain situations, state and local government officials will notify you that you need to evacuate. Most of the time you can do so by driving your car. In this case, you should do the following:
- Take paper maps, repair items, plastic ware, tents and blankets, rain gear, towels, books, and games
- Fill your tank and check the tires
- Take cash and credit cards
- Call a pre-set family emergency contact
If You’re Told to Stay in Place
Sometimes the safest thing to do is to stay where you are in Dallas property management. If you’re told to stay at home, you’ll want all the items listed above, as well as:
- A working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the home
- A fire extinguisher
- Duct tape and a roll of plastic sheeting
- In case of a hurricane, officials also recommend boarding up windows and doors and securely locking any hurricane shutters on your property.
You can rely on your property management Dallas team to keep you informed during an emergency, but it’s a good idea to continue to check local news stations for the most updated information.
The Texas Department of State Health Services also suggests that you sit down with your whole family and think through different emergency or disaster situations:
- What would we do in case of a fire, a hurricane, a flood, or a tornado?
- Where would we meet if we got separated?
- How will we communicate if phones are not working?
- Who should be our family’s emergency contacts?
- Where should we go if we have to evacuate?
- What if we have no home to return to?
- If you have children, think about their level of understanding, as well.
If everyone in the rental home is on the same page, it will make an emergency situation less scary.
A Note About Flooding
Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. If you are a landlord who has purchased a home in a flood-prone area, you may want to purchase or renew a flood insurance policy. It typically takes up to 30 days for a policy to go into effect. Homeowner’s policies do not cover flooding. You can also look into obtaining flood coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
If you are a tenant who has experienced flooding in your rental property, be sure to not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. You should also try to avoid wading in floodwater, which can contain dangerous debris and be contaminated. If you are driving during a flood and see a large body of water up ahead, TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN! What may seem like a small puddle can be deeper than you realize.
Landlords Can Provide the Following Items
As a caring Dallas property manager, you can include a few of these emergency preparedness items inside your rental home to help you tenant in an emergency situation.
Power outages can happen, so prepare your tenants and set yourself apart from other landlords in Dallas property management. A flashlight allows a tenant to find and flip breakers to try to solve the problem and go about their usual activities without major interruption. Plus, having a flashlight readily available can help families calm their kids down in case a storm causes a power outage.
Cooking is the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. Because this is the time of year when many are baking, boiling, or frying even more than usual, it’s a good idea to have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. You never know when you might need it! Make sure you talk to your tenant about where it’s located and how to properly use it so they can keep themselves and your property safe.
Emergency Call List
To be effective in rental property management, Dallas landlords go the extra mile to prepare their tenants. Your tenant may have just moved into your rental property from another state and have no idea who they should call in case of an emergency. In case you can’t be reached, and the tenant needs immediate assistance, give them a list of plumbers, electricians, etc. that you trust who could help them out. You can save money that way too!
The Law Concerning Emergency and Non-Emergency Maintenance and Repairs
Repairs and emergencies have legal requirements and tenant/landlord expectations. The first opportunity for clear communication is in the lease agreement. You should continue to have clear communication throughout a leasing term in order to maintain a good relationship between the tenant and Dallas property management. When a landlord needs to make non-emergency repairs, the law requires that the landlord notifies the tenant in writing before entering the home. In regular maintenance situations, communication is straightforward, maintenance needs are taken care of, and the tenant and landlord are happy. When an emergency occurs, the rules are a little different. A lease should explain procedures in case of an emergency and what actions a tenant should take and who to contact. Tenants should know the procedures before an emergency happens.
A Landlord’s Responsibilities
In Texas, DFW property management companies are required to make certain conditions in their rental units healthy and safe for their tenants. Some specific conditions that need to be repaired or taken care of include:
- Exposed or faulty electrical wiring that poses a danger to tenants
- Sewer leaks and plumbing problems that are a health hazard
- Pest control for roaches, rats, mice, bed bugs
- Leaks in roofs
- Damage caused by emergency situations like fire, flooding, severe storms
Just think about how your tenants could be endangered during a severe flash flood warning if they had an extremely leaky roof or electrical wiring poking out of the walls! It is important to look at local laws to know the standard of repair and codes landlords are required to meet for their rental homes.
A Tenant’s Responsibilities
The renting coin has two sides, where landlords have legal responsibilities, tenants also have responsibilities to maintain a property and follow protocols. As a tenant, if you know something in the home needs repair, contact your landlord in a timely way, so problems don’t get worse. A lease agreement should tell how a tenant can request repairs. Always check with your landlord before taking care of repair needs yourself.
Why Property Managers Rely on SPM Dallas
When an emergency situation arises, the best thing for tenants and management is to have a plan in place so problems can be taken care of quickly and responsibly. Specialized Property Management Dallas has been helping property owners manage their investments for over thirty years. We want all tenants and landlords to be prepared in emergency situations. With our 24/7 live emergency hotline, tenants can call anytime to report a concern about your property. Our 98% customer service rating shows we take care of owners, tenants, and properties with caring expertise. Put our professional Dallas property management services to work for you today—call 214-233-7572 to get started!