Let me start by saying my heart goes out to everyone who has been in the path of Hurricane Irene. Irene has impacted many communities, especially in the Caribbean Islands and New England.
Having been through hurricanes with my properties in the past, I thought it would be appropriate to dedicate this week’s blog post to some quick pointers for dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane:
First and foremost, safety should be your number one concern. Don’t put yourself or your renters into a situation that is not safe. Pay close attention to warnings and ordnances in your area.
If you haven’t already, call (or email) all guests who are scheduled to come in the next few weeks and give them a status update (even if you have no effect).
If you must cancel guests due to arrive, figure out your plan of action. If your home is uninhabitable (extreme damages, no public services such as power, phone, water, etc.), in my opinion, it is right to refund guests or allow them to re-book. While your rental contract might have a clause that says you do not refund due to hurricanes, it is my opinion that clause would only pertain to guests due to arrive (or already renting) while the hurricane is in process. I do not believe it would cover you for damages due to the hurricane after the storm. (Disclaimer: I’m not an attorney; you may want to consult with your attorney if you do not plan on refunding or re-booking guests due to arrive.)
Check your insurance policy to see if you have coverage for loss of rent due to damages. Many insurance policies for rental properties have loss of rent coverage.
Don’t be too reactionary. While your situation might look grim right now, you would be surprised how quickly clean-up and restoration of services (water, power, phone, etc.) can happen. Don’t hastily cancel guests scheduled to come 3 months from now.
Contact your insurance company. File a claim ASAP. You don’t have to wait for repair estimates, as soon as you know you have damage open a file.
When assessing damages, be sure to take photos and/or video of all damages prior to cleaning up or repairing. It will make your insurance claims much easier if you documented all damages.
Be compassionate to your service providers. While your housekeepers and maintenance staff might be your lifelines during normal circumstances, have patience with them now—their first priority will be themselves (remember this is only your second home; their primary residence may have also been impacted by the storm).
Keep detailed records of all cleaning and repair costs.
Again, my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the storm.