For property owners in the Miami area, there probably isn’t a time of year that’s worse than hurricane season. Especially for those who own rental properties, the legal stakes can get pretty high during the rainy months. With the memory of Hurricane Matthew still fresh, it’s little wonder why.
I recently had a friend who manages a few rental properties in Miami and Coral Gables ask about what I thought were some important things for rental property owners to know about damage from hurricanes. While that depends on a case-by-case basis, there are a few questions that property owners need to ask.
Here are three questions you should ask before the next storm:
Who is Responsible for Damage to the Building?
As the owner of the property, any damage caused by a hurricane falls to you. Luckily, that’s what insurance is for. Broken windows, damaged siding, missing shingles—things like this should be covered by your insurance.
It’s important to start repairing damages as quickly as possible because you might be on the hook for your tenants’ accommodations while you’re making the apartment livable again. Insurance usually covers the cost of alternative housing, but reimbursement can take a while. When you have multiple people renting from you, that can add up quickly.
Does the Property Owner Have to Pay for Damaged Items in the Home?
What happens inside the apartment during a hurricane is a different matter. Your tenants’ property inside each living area is not covered by your insurance policy. For instance, if one of your renters’ computer is ruined because of water damage from a broken window, they will be responsible for repairing the computer.
Your tenants do have options, though. They will need to purchase separate renter’s insurance if they want to protect their belongings. Talk to them about the possibility of getting renter’s insurance for their place.
What Damage Will Insurance Cover?
This question is the most difficult to answer. On the one hand, you have an insurance policy that says what will be covered in the event of hurricane damage. On the other hand, insurance companies don’t always pay what they should. The best thing you can do when you purchase your insurance policy is to carefully review it to make sure that you are buying enough coverage.
The possibility of litigation after a hurricane is high, especially if you don’t take proper measures to ensure your property is up to code, that maintenance is promptly scheduled, and that repairs are done in a timely manner. Call the offices of Hansen and Taylor, Attorneys at Law to schedule a meeting. We are experienced real estate attorneys that want to help you stay safe and legal this hurricane season so you can continue to grow your business.