Winter will soon arrive, and many rental owners and managers are getting ready to deal with winter. For some apartment and rental housing facilities and units, it is a part of their normal routine each winter to prepare for emergencies from hazardous winter conditions.
Extreme weather conditions can have a significant impact on your rental properties. The following recommendations will help you prepare for the upcoming winter season, should extremely low temperatures or other extreme conditions occur. You may want to share this tip sheet with tenants as well.
Here are tips for rental owners during extreme weather conditions:
Have A Plowing Plan
Have a plowing plan for all parking lots and walkways detailing who is responsible for plowing which areas. Your plowing plan should also include where to dump the snow, which areas are a priority for plowing, and what vehicles will be used. Make sure your tenants know who to call if there are any questions or problems.
Watch the News
Check weather forecasts so you can be prepared if the temperature drops far below freezing or a snowstorm come through the area. Suppose the weather is predicted to be extremely cold; you could spray water on your exterior walkways and entrances to minimize potential ice.
Prepare the Essentials
Ensure you have plenty of batteries for flashlights, radios, etc., in case the electricity goes out. Have a plan on where you will go if it does go out like your generators.
Water heaters should be set to their lowest setting, so you do not run out of hot water. If the temperature is at or near freezing, arrange for your tenants to move their cars under cover should frozen pipes burst due to extremely cold weather.
Be Prepared For A Utility Emergency
Make sure your utility arrangements are in place if another water or sewer line backs up due to extreme cold conditions. Most service providers will work with you when emergencies happen, but you should have a written copy of your agreement on file if needed.
If the power goes out, make sure your tenants know where flashlights and batteries are. Check on elderly or disabled residents to make sure they have adequate heat if it’s extremely cold.
Prepare for Heat Emergencies
The most important thing you can do during an extreme cold weather emergency is make sure your building is a safe and warm place for everyone. Consider having a backup generator because many buildings will not have power once the temperatures reach below zero. Also, make sure your generators are ready in case of emergencies and have plenty of fuel available.
Boilers will be among the main sources of heat when emergencies like this occur. They might be vulnerable to malfunction due to such extreme weather. If they do so, a temporary boiler solutions provider is handy in such a situation.
Take a look at Hurricane Sandy back in 2012, which revealed how New York buildings could be vulnerable to extreme weather. To ensure that power can quickly be restored to buildings when in danger in an extreme weather event, the NYC Department of Buildings and NYC Department of Environmental Protection created a Temporary Boilers License.
Housing Unit Preparation
If the heat is entirely out in individual housing units, check with your local municipality or fire department to see if they will allow you to move tenants into another unit that has heat. (This may only be an option for very short periods.)
If it gets freezing outside, some areas have warming stations where you can bring non-ambulatory tenants, so they do not have to stay outside. If your property is low-income or subsidized housing, contact the appropriate government agency regarding any possible waivers or other options available should extreme weather conditions exist.
Review Your Insurance Coverage
Review your insurance policies and make sure you are adequately covered for any damage caused by an emergency during winter. Take a look at what is covered in case of any damages. Some damages may not be covered if your tenant is at fault or fails to follow the rules or instructions that management has provided for safe living in the community.
Make sure you know who plows your parking lots and areas around your buildings so you can stay on top of any emergencies that might arise during this time. When preparing, don’t forget about your tenants with special needs during these extremely cold temperatures.
Most importantly, make sure your insurance coverage is adequate to handle any damages that might occur, keeping in mind it’s all about being prepared before bad weather strikes!