Landlord Toolkit: Emergency Preparedness Plans

What a week! What with Hurricane Sandy wreaking havoc on the East Coast, it’s sometimes been hard to think of anything else–and our thoughts are with the people of New York, New Jersey, and elsewhere as businesses reopen and people begin to rebuild affected areas.

While Seattle isn’t exactly prone to hurricanes, events like those of this week remind us that emergencies can occur–and there is plenty that can be done beforehand.

Drawing up an Emergency Preparedness Plan

We thought we’d take today’s post to put together a landlord toolkit for emergency preparedness, focusing on the ever-important Emergency Plan. Emergency plans are just about essential for every building, and we found several easy guides for putting one together. Here are the essentials–follow the links for even more information.

Emergency Phone Numbers

Of course, the plan should include a contact number for you or your property manager, as well as a list of emergency numbers (the fire department, gas company, poison control hotline, etc.). These numbers should be listed in a location that is easily accessible for every tenant, as well as being included in the plan.

Also, don’t forget to keep a list of your own emergency numbers: who do you call with a plumbing emergency? What about if you need an electrician? Locating these numbers before an emergency occurs can save time and prevent damage if an apartment is flooding from a burst pipe, or wires are sparking, and time is of the essence.

What is an Emergency? …And Do Tenants Need Renter’s Insurance?

About.com noted that you may also wish to include a short section on what constitutes an emergency in your plan–for instance, a gas leak requires immediate attention…while a dripping faucet can wait until tomorrow. You may also wish to advise your tenants to purchase renter’s insurance, as your own insurance coverage will not cover a tenant’s furniture or belongings if a fire or storm damage them–and renter’s insurance can often be found for as little as $10 per month.

What to Plan For

So you’ve laid out some basic info. But what else do you need…and what exactly does your plan need to, well, plan for? Any feasible event, according to MultifamilyInsider.com: “You will need to have a plan on hand in the event of fires, floods, earthquakes, and other unforeseen emergencies that may potentially apply to your region. Tenants need to know not only how to evacuate the building, but also what to do in cases where they must remain inthe building as a disastrous event occurs.” You’ll need to plan both your own and your tenants’ roles during the emergency–for instance, who calls 911 if the fire alarm is not triggered?

The Multifamily Insider article includes a pretty exhaustive (but not too long) list of what you’ll need to include on your emergency plan–check it out here. Once the plan is complete, be sure to distribute it to all tenants, either when they sign the lease, or when new information is added.

Hopefully, your emergency preparedness plan is something you’ll never have to use. But you may sleep better at night knowing the info is all laid out–and if an emergency does occur, you’ll know what to do.

For more on emergency preparedness, go to http://www.redcross.org.

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