2018 was quite a year for storms. We were fortunate not to get hit in South Florida, but our neighbors in the panhandle cannot claim the same. They were decimated by Hurricane Michael. As our planet gets hotter, ocean temps do too, and that heat is a key ingredient in hurricane intensification.
June 1st is the official start of hurricane season. Although the season does not peak until August, NOW is the time to prepare your properties to face the elements. While our recommendations apply to properties in South Florida, it’s important to acknowledge the nuance of your specific location. If your property is located in a mandatory evacuation zone, you and your tenants will need to take additional precautions.
Local governments designate and publish a comprehensive list of evacuation zones. In Miami-Dade, for example, this includes everything east of US1 or Biscayne Blvd. If your property is along the coast or on a barrier island, such as Miami Beach or Key Biscayne, this means you.
Here are the things you need to take care of right now, before there’s a whisper of trouble. If you’re an absentee homeowner and you decide that this is not what you signed up for, call TBR Property Management. We’ve been managing properties for absentee homeowners in South Florida for over 15 years.
Review your insurance documents and make sure your property is properly covered. Proper coverage in a hurricane zone includes the following: wind, flood and inventory. We cover this extensively in our post Outside the Box. An insurance professional will be able to review your documents and suggest changes if needed.
At TBR Property Management, we can recommend knowledgeable and trustworthy agents. Additionally, it is in your best interest to visit floodsmart.gov – the national flood insurance program.
- PRO TIP 1: Do not think you can wait to buy insurance until you’re under a hurricane watch or warning – they won’t sell it to you.
- PRO TIP 2: The most important thing is that you can document the condition of your property and your valuables. There is a possibility that they could be damaged because of your neighbor’s negligence. Don’t think that because your home is properly secured that your neighbor’s is too. This is especially true if you live in a condo, or if there are construction materials present in your neighborhood.
Make a check-list! The following need to be thoroughly checked:
o Roof: It may be worthwhile to hire a professional to make sure there are no loose tiles. The gutters must be thoroughly cleaned. Otherwise, all that water just creates more problems.
o Windows/Shutters: Make sure the windows are properly sealed, and that there are no leaks. If you do not have impact windows, do a dry run with your storm shutters to make sure they have all the parts, and to make sure they are working properly. In an active hurricane season, components for shutters and other essentials may become scarce. Leave nothing til the last minute.
- PRO TIP 3: WD-40 is your friend. It’s great for loosening up stubborn accordion storm shutters. Get it now, before the rush.
- PRO TIP 4: Once you have the house shuttered, do a test with a garden hose. You’ll learn quickly where the leaks are!
o Air Conditioner: Because of the high humidity during hurricane season, maintenance should be done on all AC units, both interior and exterior equipment. This should be done NOW. The longer you wait, the hotter it gets, the busier they are, and the more you’re going to pay.
TBR Property Management can recommend and coordinate appointments with professionals in all of the aforementioned areas.
Walk the perimeter of the house looking for loose shutters, breakable items, and situations which could threaten your home or the homes of your neighbors. This is an opportunity to purge items that need replacing, as well as items you’re just not using.
o Coconut palms must be trimmed and cleaned. Coconuts have the potential to become fast flying projectiles, not just for your property, but also your neighbors. The same rule applies to loose stones.
o If you have a pool, arrange a meeting with the service company to check on the equipment and find out what their program is for hurricane season. They should be able to provide additional treatment if the electricity fails, so the pool doesn’t turn green and add yet another expense to your damages list. If your pool service provider seems not to have a plan, please contact TBR Property Management for recommendations.
o If you have a boat, you have to either find safe harbor or make sure that the boat is properly tied to the dock. There is no room for error here. An experienced navigator should be able to help you out with this. Make sure your insurance is up to date and in a safe place, NOT on the boat.
o Outdoor Furniture and Small Items: These cannot remain outside, so now is the time to make a plan for where you’re going to put them inside. Even the items that you think are too heavy, like a 100 pound concrete planter – need to come inside. Make sure you have cash on hand to pay for help.
o Inventory: Whether this is a primary residence, vacation home, or investment property, making a detailed home inventory is a must. This will be extremely useful if you have to present a claim to your insurance carrier. There are several websites that offer a simple form. Please don’t hesitate to contact TBR Property Management for a comprehensive inventory list.
- Take photos or video of each room, as well as the exterior of your property. Email the inventory and the photos to yourself, so you can access the information from anywhere.
- In case of hurricane, if the original insurance paperwork is in your home in Florida, put it in plastic bags and put those bags inside the washing machine. The structure is sound and the seal is tight!
When the next major storm is barreling towards Florida, will you be able to look it in the eye knowing you’ve done everything possible to prepare your home? The more prepared you are, the less scrambling you’ll need to do once a storm is on its way. This information is not designed to scare you. It’s simply our reality. As longtime residents of South Florida, TBR Property Management is here to help with your hurricane preparedness. If after reading the blog, you decide that this is a list of tasks you have no interest in taking care of, call us. We’re experts at this.