The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season has already started and will run through to November 30. With the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) projecting an average hurricane activity season, Montague Law underscores the importance of being prepared, offering some vital tips for landlords and tenants.
- Insurance: Ensure your insurance certificates are organized and current, including any required coverage according to the lease agreement.
- Tenant Coverage: Tenants should not assume the landlord’s insurance covers their personal property or specific improvements within the leased premises. Usually, the landlord’s coverage applies to the building structure only.
- Casualty Provisions: Understand the casualty provision in your lease. It clarifies each party’s responsibility to repair damage to the leased premises and/or the building in the event of full or partial destruction.
- Utility Services Provision: Check the provision for loss of utility services. It may allow for rent abatement until service is restored, but often these rights are limited and may not apply during a hurricane.
- Maintenance and Repair: Review your lease for maintenance and repair obligations. Schedule pre-season and pre-storm check-ins with key vendors like restoration services, roofing contractors, general contractors, electricians, and grounds maintenance teams.
- Flood Insurance: If your property is located partially in a flood zone, consider obtaining flood insurance. It provides financial protection and helps both parties recover and rebuild efficiently after a disaster.
- Access Post-Storm: Collaborate with your landlord and municipality to understand how post-storm access to the property will be managed. Some municipalities may limit access to essential personnel only.
- Technology Protection: Safeguard your electronic assets from water damage. Anticipate power outages by preparing with car phone chargers, portable chargers, and hard copies of essential contacts in case of network disruptions.
- Force Majeure Clause: Many leases include this clause, which may extend deadlines in the event of severe weather. If a deadline is looming, determine whether force majeure might permit its extension and comply with any related notice requirements.
- Safety: Ensure you have the ‘all clear’ from property management before returning to your property post-storm. Bring professionals with you to ensure your safety.
In summary, with the impending hurricane season, landlords and tenants must be diligent in their preparations. By examining lease provisions, ensuring adequate insurance coverage, preparing technology and utility plans, and prioritizing safety, landlords and tenants can better mitigate potential damages and losses. It’s not about anticipating the worst, but about being best prepared for any situation.