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Blizzard warnings are hammering the east coast as Storm Stella hits, bringing with it feet of snow, freezing rain, coastal flooding and 50 mph winds.
If you own or manage rental property in any of the areas in the Stella Storm zone, make sure you take the right steps to check in with your tenants and protect your property.
Property managers and landlords with renters in blizzard regions have the added responsibility of ensuring the safety of their tenants and properties.
If haven’t already done so, check in with your tenants to make sure they are doing ok and taking the right steps to get through a blizzard. Keep in mind that your renters will be looking to management for updates on lost power, water and other utilities.
Here are some basic steps to take if you are a property manager or landlord and a blizzard hits your rental property.
A phone call, text, or email with friendly message that says, “Just wanted to check in. Stay safe in the storm and let me know if you need anything.” Remind your renters that their safety is your top priority and listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information on snow storms and blizzards from the National Weather Service (NWS).
If the winter storm is late into winter, your properties might already be prepared for winter weather. But if this is the first snowstorm of the season, make sure your rentals are ready for freezing conditions. Check out this list for Winter Maintenance Tips to Remind Your Renters to help prevent frozen pipes and other housing casualties of cold weather.
Remind your tenants that water, utilities and power may be impacted or shut off as a result of the storm and that they may have to stay indoors without access to food or other resources for a few days.
Email your tenants a Winter Storm Safety Checklist, like this one from the Red Cross.
Provide tips for how renters can stay warm if the power goes out and about the dangers of Carbon Monoxide and your rental rules about using generators, heaters, or grills indoors.
Let your tenants know the safest thing to do during a storm is to stay indoors and avoid traveling during blizzard conditions. Schedule a time to check on your properties after the storm is over and it is safe to travel. If you are a long-distance landlord, coordinate an inspection with your local maintenance personnel.
Share with your tenants that a basic emergency supply kit should include the following recommended items:
Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
Flashlight and extra batteries
First aid kit
Whistle to signal for help
Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
Manual can opener for food
Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
Even during a blizzard, your city has certain laws that require you to keep public walkways and roads clear of snow and ice. Depending on your local ordinances, you may need to have sidewalks and walkways clear by the following morning. Some cities require a landlord to coordinate snow removal, while other cities allow a lease agreement to state that tenant is required to adhere to local snow removal laws.
For more tips on snow removal check out this article: Am I Responsible for Snow Removal at My Rental Property?
Good luck to all those living in the Stella Storm zone!