20 Replies Latest reply: Aug 31, 2011 8:19 AM by meredith RSS

    Hurricane Preparedness

    terirusso Contributor

      With the upcomming Hurricane Irene comming up the coast, we in NJ are experiencing something rare. If the storm comes as close as they say it may, I need my renters that are due to leave on Sunday to leave on Saturday. I called the local police to see, in the event of an evacuation, how they handled it. The response was not comforting. She said they have never had an evacuation, so she was not sure how they would not notify people. I sent the renters a link to the OEM (Office of Emergency Management) which has posted instructions including evacuation routes.

      On that note, my renters want to stay until Sunday, but I want to prepare the house for the storm just to be safe. This includes putting away the patio furniture, which has to go in the house because there is not enough storage anywhere else, taking the window airconditioners out of the windows because the water comes through them when the wind gets bad, and if they think the sorm will come in as a Cat 1 maybe board up the sliders facing the bay.

      Should I offer to refund a night to get them out, or just insist that they have to go.

        • Hurricane Preparedness
          msdebj Senior Contributor

          Teri- my vaca place is on the Gulf so we're a bit more used to this. I have a clause in my contract that says renters have to leave if an evacuation order is called. They can rebook ( for their time remaining) within one year.

           

          But, in your case with just one day, I guess I'd refund the day. You have to secure your property- that's the main thing here. 

           

          I keep a Hurricane Information sheet in my home that has all contact numbers, local radio & TV stations and tips ( like make sure your gas tank is full, how to follow evacuation routes etc.).

           

          Some people seem to think it exciting to sit out a Hurricane, so you have to be firm in getting them to leave. Trust me, there's nothing fun about being in a bad hurricane- nothing! 

           

          BEST of luck to you! Hope the storm wobbles east.

            • Hurricane Preparedness
              Contributor

              I'm from New Orleans and have lived through many decades of hurricanes, with and without renters.

              One thing to be mindful of - some people look forward to "Hurricane Parties"...they think it is exciting to run out and play in the weather...just as seen on The Weather Channel!

               

              Many folks simply do not understand how serious things can become, nor do they understand the fact that they may be without any utilities for some time or unable to fly or drive back home when they had planned to.  Help may not be readily available in the case of an emergency.  Phone service can be iffy, at best.  You know all this, of course, but they just have no clue, and many just don't care.

               

              It's imperative - even for a Cat I storm - to make certain your guests depart safely before the weather turns ugly.  You don't want to have to be responsible for people if they get stuck on your property.  If you don't have an evacuation clause in your contract, you should definitely refund time lost to the renter.  Update your Rental Agreement as soon as possible so that you will be covered in the future.  Protecting your investment will mean inconveniences for your guests, but is imperative.  Better to get them out and batten down the hatches.

               

              I was booked solid for August 2005...you would not believe how many people did not want to cancel, even with full refunds and in the face of Katrina.  They wanted to experience a hurricane "up close and personal".  That would have left quite an impression...for those who managed to live through it.

                • Hurricane Preparedness
                  msdebj Senior Contributor

                  Teri- let us know how everything comes out.

                  I agree with Manouche. Some people are just nuts, and others have NO idea how bad things can get. Ike was a Cat.2 when it hit Galveston and there were NO services for 2 + weeks or longer. 

              • Hurricane Preparedness
                marym Active Contributor

                We're on the NC coast and are just about biting our nails right now...!!  Thankfully our last guest just left this AM - I was the next person going into the house, so I'm the one who'll have the shortened vacation...  In any event, because this is not unusual for the NC Coast, we have a clause in our contract that if there's a mandatory evacuation, we'll prorate the time on the island and send them the difference - I think it just makes good sense.  It's not really anyone's fault....just the way things go sometimes!!

                • Hurricane Preparedness
                  terirusso Contributor

                  Thanks to everyone who gave advice. We havent had evacuations in NJ in 23 years. My renters are leaving in the morning. And we can go in and batten down the hatches. Next renters due in on Sunday will have to wait to see what happens.  Preparing for the worse and hoping for the best.

                    • Hurricane Preparedness
                      New Member

                      Teri,

                       

                      My 2 houses are on LBI and my tenants were smart enought to leave yesterday.  Because of our mandatory evacuation and the closing of the only road onto the island I am not able to go to the houses and batten down the hatches.  One of my tenants was really great we kept in touch by phone and they closed up my 2 houses and took in all the outside furniture before they left.

                       

                      I am giving both tenants a refund for the 2 night that they evacuated.  The great thing is that both want to book for next year.

                      • Re: Hurricane REFUND policy
                        New Member

                        So now what are you going to do? Have the people come in? If not what kind of refund are you giving? Mine are leaving early, I have prorated their stay and giving refund.

                      • Hurricane Preparedness
                        joelle.norwood New Member

                        What you described happened to me for my beach rental in Rehoboth Beach De.  I offered the guest a refund for the one night sop that I could get this property reday.

                        • Re: Hurricane REFUND policy
                          joelle.norwood New Member

                          What do you think about

                           

                           

                          HURRICANE OR STORM POLICY – My renters requested a refund before the sorm has hit the area. They say that

                           

                          THIS CLAUSE REFERS TO THEM.  I think that these means for a reservation deposit.  They booked over 4 months ago.   I will refund them for any days that are MANDATORY EVACUATION AND WILL OFFER THEM ANOTHER WEEK FOR NEXT SEASON.

                           

                          LOVE SOME IMPUT ON THIS MATTER,  thanks Joelle

                           

                          Any advance rents collected or deposited for a reservation that is scheduled to arrive during the "Hurricane Warning" period.


                           

                           

                          No refunds will be given unless:

                           

                          1. a. The National Weather Service orders mandatory evacuations in a "Tropical Storm/Hurricane Warning area" and/or
                          2. b. A "mandatory evacuation order has been given for the Tropical Storm/Hurricane Warning" area of residence of a vacationing guest. The day that the National Weather Service orders a mandatory evacuation order in a "Tropical Storm/Hurricane Warning," area, we will refund:
                          3. 1. Any unused portion of rent from a guest currently registered,
                          4. 2. Any unused portion of rent from a guest that is scheduled to arrive, and wants to shorten their stay, to come in after the Hurricane Warning is lifted; and
                          5. 3. Any advance rents collected or deposited for a reservation that is scheduled to arrive during the "Hurricane Warning" period. By Signing Below, I agree to all terms and conditions of this agreement .

                           

                          • Re: Hurricane REFUND policy
                            terirusso Contributor

                            The renters are really making me laugh. Have to laugh to keep my sanity. After having to practly having to remove the outgoing renters, the incomming called me before the hurricane was even over to see if I had any information on when they would be allowed to go. The Garden State Parkway was closed, along with almost every road  and local bridge leading to the house,so they wouldn't have been able to get there anyway. Guess thats the life of a Vacation Home Renter. And this while my primary residence was flooded and had no power.

                            • Re: Hurricane REFUND policy
                              Contributor

                              We have a two family home in Surf City on LBI (NJ) where there was a mandatory evacuation in Friday.  I was in constant communication with both tenants before they left.  I asked them, and they agreed, to stow all our outdoor furniture.  I think that the good will you generate in the booking process and with advance communication pays off in a situation such as this.  It didn't ever occur to me (nor to them, I think) to just leave everything and head out of town.  The relationship I establish when I rent the house out is that you are a GUEST in my HOME.  It is a personal experience.  In addition, they did not ask but I have told them I will be refunding the cost for the lost vacation day.  As for tenants who were scheduled to come in on Saturday, I told them to PLEASE wait until I could have my handyman and cleaning person confirm the condition.  One was really chomping at the bit and wanted to come down last night as soon as the parkway reopened.  She agreed to wait for the early morning today.  the other, a returning guest, was far more cautious and waited for the all clear from me.  They both are checking in today (Monday) and again, I will be refunding them for the lost two days.  I know that the local realtors are not doing the same thing with refunds. 

                               

                              In a situation such as this, I think that taking it on the chin and refunding some money is simply the right thing to do.  My lease clearly states no refunds, even for inclement weather, but these are extenuating circumstances - a mojor hurricane threat, state of emergency, road closures etc etc.  If someone decided not to come down after I give the all clear, that is another story but I do want to treat people fairly.  This is why so many people prefer to deal with owners rather than agencies.  Good and fair business practices create good karma. 

                              • Re: Hurricane REFUND policy
                                Contributor

                                I'd like to chime in....during Hurricane season guests should know that when they are renting a home in a designated Hurricane zone that during this time of year their trip could be impacted.  I have not seen anyone mention Travel Insurance which protects guests in the event something like this happens.  I have a home in the US Virgin Islands and worry about Hurricanes every year and have a totally separate Hurricane Policy that outlines anything and everything that could go wrong to and including what hurricane shutters look like when they are installed (totally dark inside).  I stress over and over again that we highly recommend that guests purchase Travel Insurance if they are renting during hurricane season and provide them with a link to InsureMyTrip.com .  It will cost the guest about 7% of the rental rate and covers all costs including air fare.  If a guest fails to purchase travel insurance and we have a hurricane I am then able to point out to the guest that you signed a disclaimer and checked the box that said you were informed and you elected not to purchse the travel insurance as we do not provide refunds.  On a positve note...I have had guests thank me for letting them know that travel insurance was even an option. 

                                • Re: Hurricane REFUND policy
                                  terirusso Contributor

                                  I prorated the rent for both renters, outgoing and in comming, and gave a check to the out going renters when I went to close up the house. mse642, like you I was in constant contact with the renters. At first I told them that I would be there early Saturday morning to put things away. Considering these were 3rd year repeat renters, I was hoping they would offer to put things away. After the announcement for manatory evacuations, I called them back to say that I would be there on Friday. They were not happy about this, and let me know this. Sometimes it doesn't matter how good of a relationship you have established with the people, sometimes they don't understand what it takes to keep these rentals going. While I agree that we need to establish a good relationship with our renters, two points to take into account. One-this is a business, and we need to treat it that way. Two, I don't think people want to feel like they are a guest in somone elses home, I think they want to feel like they are on vacation in a place they can feel at home.

                                    • Re: Hurricane REFUND policy
                                      msdebj Senior Contributor

                                      Terri- I think you handled the situation with class, and professional style.  Irene could have been a MUCH worse event, and there is just no way to know  when it comes to storms.  Anyone now stranded on the Outer Banks w/o potable water, electric, etc. can attest to that.  Eating MRE's or Salvation Army food works for long time residents - not so much for vacationers

                                       

                                      And yes, I ALWAYS encourage my renters to purchase Travel Insurance during the height of 'cane season! 

                                       

                                      Being a Gulf Coast owner, I've tightened my cancellation policy up BIG time since Ike. 

                                       

                                      Hopefully, you guys won't have to deal with type for a LONG time!

                                      Deb

                                    • Re: Hurricane REFUND policy
                                      New Member

                                      i have guests that have stayed in the house, past the hurricane, and have no electricity, no water...

                                      they are still there, but want a refund... how do we proceed, it was a hurricane, nothing i can do, and everyone is out of electric the town and the next two towns... they have been there a week, and now are into their second week, but electric has been out for three days so far.... please advise.... 

                                        • Re: Hurricane REFUND policy
                                          msdebj Senior Contributor

                                          1. Was an Evacuation Order issued? Did you communicate that to them and demand they leave?

                                           

                                          2. Can they get out of the area?

                                           

                                          3. If they can,what does your rental policy state?

                                            • Re: Hurricane REFUND policy
                                              msdebj Senior Contributor

                                              Your most likely are going to have to make them whole-- depending on the laws in your state. 

                                               

                                              One thing to consider. Your tax advisor should be able to help you write the lost income off. There are various ways this can be done, depending on how you file.

                                              • Re: Hurricane Preparedness
                                                New Member

                                                No evacuation order. And nothing in contract as this never happens in our ny area..

                                                 

                                                Sent from my iPhone

                                                  • Re: Hurricane Preparedness
                                                    msdebj Senior Contributor

                                                    ldavis-- I am sure other coastal owners are going to chime in here. But here is my take.

                                                     

                                                    They rented your home because you provided a place that had water, electricity, etc. ( it was habitable).  If the home they rented doesn't have those ( and you have no contingency clause in your contract) I think you should refund them for the time they have been there without basic utilities.

                                                     

                                                    I'd prorate the days they have not had water, electricity, etc. , give them a refund and make sure they leave ASAP.

                                                    This is now a health hazard and you don't even want to go there ,legally.

                                                     

                                                    I realize it is not your fault, but it is not their's either, and you are responsible for providing a safe environment. I'd cut my losses, if I were you.

                                                     

                                                    Hopefully your insurer or tax advisor can help you out in the long run.  

                                                     

                                                    Best of luck-- let us know what happens.

                                                    Deb

                                              • Re: Hurricane Preparedness
                                                meredith HomeAway Employee

                                                Hi Everyone,

                                                 

                                                Just wanted to point out this Group on Community dedicated to all vacation rental owners and travelers who may have been affected by Hurricane Irene. If you have been impacted or are just interested you can find good resources here.

                                                 

                                                Thanks,

                                                 

                                                Meredith