How to Prepare for Severe Weather: Tenant Communication
When it comes to property management, you have to be proactive and not reactive. As we touched on briefly in our previous blog, you should be sending notifications to your tenants at least quarterly, as the seasons change.
Communicating with your tenant is your first line of defense!
Although it may seem obvious to a local what the weather patterns are, we live in an ever-increasingly globalized world. Which means your tenants could be from out of state – or from another continent! Protect your property by informing your tenants diligently about upcoming weather expectations and how they relate to property management.
1) Draft a Seasonal Letter
You’re in the property management business, not comedy – you don’t have to keep your material fresh! Draft a letter to send out to your tenants that is applicable to the region your property is located in.
2) Do Your Part
The onus is not entirely on the tenant to maintain the property that they occupy. Sending an informational letter does not remove your responsibility as the property owner. Make sure that you are doing your part to keep the property safe via regular inspections, necessary updates, and repairs. You should see it as giving the tenant all the information and tools necessary to protect the property from severe weather.
3) Set Your Expectations
In your letter, make it clear that there are certain issues that you expect to occur, both to the property and the region at large. A common cold-weather issue (here in Texas) is that after months of disuse during our blisteringly dry summers, heaters that are being turned on for the first time sometimes emit burning smells that cause great concern to tenants. Informing your tenants will cut down on the phone calls to your maintenance team (or you, if you are managing your own property) and will give them a clear “next step” to take.
4) Create Actionable Steps
No one likes vague instructions. Inform your tenants in detail how they should be responding to shifting weather conditions. A simple to-do list will get the job done, so long as the items are specific and actionable, not just informative. “Water the foundation every week during the summer in accordance with your local grass watering ordinances” is much more specific than the guideless “Dry ground may cause foundation to shift”.
5) Put it in the Lease
It’s not only in your tenant’s best interest to have these seasonal letters written and sent or emailed to them – it’s in your best interest, as well! You should be keeping records of all tenant communications. This sets up clear expectations for both parties. If one side fails to meet the expectation, it will make it more clear who is liable for the costs of damages, should any occur. A letter or notice, however, is not a legally binding contract. The lease is. For this reason, it is advisable that the lease include language pertaining to the maintenance of property in regards to weather conditions. In a hot and dry region such as ours in Texas, watering the foundation is necessary property maintenance that prevents shifting foundations and all the trouble that comes with it. Including that specific action as a rider or in the main body of the lease obligates the tenant to comply.
Communicating with tenants is a priority on every landlord’s plate! Property Managers at Frontline Property Management, Inc. are in constant communication with tenants and have the support of multiple departments to streamline the process- so you don’t have to! If you aren’t sure what to expect in the Dallas / Fort Worth and surrounding areas – whether it’s the weather or market values – contact us today to find out!