Hurricane Irene is a reminder that bad things happen indiscriminately. Power outages and downed trees are no respecter of persons. This year, Tornadoes in Alabama and Missouri leveled entire neighborhoods. What responsibility does property management have when an entire city is on the edge of darkness? That of the reasonable person.
Like when a tree falls on a car on property, in my opinion, it is the responsibility of the auto owners insurer to address the damage to the vehicle. It is property management's responsibility to address tree removal as rapidly as safety allows. This is an example of the reasonable person theory.
"The reasonable person standard holds: each person owes a duty to behave as a reasonable person would under the same or similar circumstances"
Whether hurricane or earthquake, if the property is deemed habitable by local officials, property management is charged with setting things back in order as fast as possible while working with insurance providers. And, as much as tenants want things back to perfect as fast a possible the process will likely be longer than anyone would like.
Encourage all tenants to have renters insurance. This is a good business practice. With extended power outages customers will often contact management about damage to electronics and food spoilage asking for reimbursement. Enacting the reasonable person standard, management is not responsible for Acts of God.
Have printed contact sheets for local government assistance agencies and charities. Consider that any assistance offered on property, such as food or blankets, is provided on a first come, first served basis until gone. If implemented, this policy must be documented as provided without favoritism.
Natural disasters are a perhaps no more prominent now than years ago with several big differences:
• We have warning systems that allow people to take cover in advance of pending danger
• Instantaneous news coverage that bring the events to our front of mind in real time
• Population density in big cities that is at historic highs
These factors impact the property management business. And while no single property is more important than any single person, we must use common sense and act as a reasonable person when addressing natural disasters that affect the property in our care.
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Multifamily Insight is dedicated to assisting current and future multifamily property owners, operators and investors in executing specific tasks that allow multifamily assets to operate at their highest level of efficiency. We discuss real world issues in multifamily management and acquisitions. This blog is intended to be informational only and does not provide legal, financial or accounting advice. Seek professional counsel. We discuss best practices in multifamily management and methods related to how to buy apartment complexes. Our focus is sharing strategies and tactics that can be implemented and measured. For more information, visit: www.MultifamilyInsight.com
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