2017 Rental Housing Legislative Changes

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Becky Bower

legal-update

From new laws that will affect California’s tenant background check to Seattle, Washington’s “first come, first served” renter law, 2017 has brought an onslaught of new rental housing legislation. Here are some passed and pending bills you should look out for this year.

NATIONWIDE LEGISLATION

PENDING: HUD’s Smoke-Free Public Housing (view rule)

The department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has proposed a rule that requires each public housing authority (PHA) to implement a smoke-free policy. This smoke-free policy applies to all public housing living units, indoor common areas, PHA administrative buildings, and in outdoor areas extending up to 25 feet from both the public housing and office buildings. This rule is currently up for comment until January 19th, 2017. Once this rule is published with the Federal Register and the effective date is established, all PHAs must implement the smoke-free policy within 18 months.

The National Consumer Assistance Plan (read our full article)

Announced in September of 2016, the three major credit bureaus will be enacting the National Consumer Assistance Plan to new and existing public record data on July 1, 2017. Experian® anticipates that the new standards will likely affect about 96% of civil judgement data, making getting a tenant screening service that includes eviction data even more imperative.

CALIFORNIA

Landlord/Tenant Unlawful Detainer Proceedings (AB 2819)

There will be no public access to unlawful detainer (eviction) records, unless the plaintiff/landlord prevails within 60 days of filing. The previous law had the defendant/tenant required to prevail within 60 days to bar public access. This goes into effect, January 1, 2017.

Pesticide Application in Common Interest Developments (AB 2362)

Homeowner associations in common interest developments must now provide tenants advance written notice when over-the-counter pesticides are applied to separate interest dwellings or common areas. Notice must be provided at least 48 hours before application, however, if the pests pose a high and immediate threat, notification can be posted one hour before pesticides are applied.

Landlord/Tenant Bedbugs Disclosure (AB 551)

This amendment requires landlords to give information about bed bugs (as specified) to new tenants starting July 1, 2017 and for existing tenants starting January 1, 2018. Notice must also be given to tenants of units inspected by a pest control operator and provide the findings within 2 business days. This bill also prohibits landlords from showing, renting, or leasing a vacancy that the landlord knows has a bed bug infestation. By law, tenants must cooperate with bed bug inspections, permitting entry into the unit by the pest control operator.

Landlord/Tenant Commercial Leasing Disclosure (AB 2093)

Requires property owner(s) or lessor to state on every lease form on or after January 1, 2017 whether or not the premises have been inspected by a Certified Access Specialist (CASp). The landlord must provide tenants with a current disability access inspection certificate or report, or a copy of the CASp inspection report if the report indicates that they meet applicable disability standards. If the property does not have a disability access inspection certificate, then the lease form or rental agreement must state that, on the request of the tenant, a CASp inspection may be performed (as specified). Landlords are responsible for making repairs or modifications to correct violations of construction-related accessibility standards.

Amendments on Accessory (Second) Dwellings (AB 2299 and SB 1069)

Effective as of January 1, 2017, these two bills revise the zoning restrictions on second dwellings, allowing the creation of 2nd units in single-family and multifamily residential zones (with specified provisions regarding where the 2nd unit may be located, standards, etc.).  In addition to changing the term from “second unit” to “accessory dwelling units”, AB 2299, in particular, revises parking requirements for accessory dwellings. The previous law requires second units to not exceed one parking space per unit or bedroom, with additional authorization for more than one parking space. The amendment removes the need for additional authorization for accessory dwelling parking.

Junior Accessory Dwellings (AB 2406)

Local governments can now establish laws for the creation of junior accessory dwellings in single-family residential zones. Local governments are prohibited from requiring additional parking as a condition of granting a permit.

Removes Certain Disclosures for Transfer of Residential Property (AB 73)

This bill revises the requirements of certain disclosures that are to be made when transferring residential property. Now, the property owner, their agent, or the agent of the transferee of the property are no longer required to disclose the occurrence or manner of death of an occupant (as specified). The bill also no longer requires the disclosure that an occupant of the property was living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or died from AIDS related complications.

Landscape Irrigation Equipment (AB 1928)

This bill requires new performance standards and labeling requirements for landscape irrigation equipment and would postpone the date by which the commission is to adopt the performance standards and labeling requirements to January 1, 2019, and would prohibit the sale or the offer for sale of that equipment manufactured on or after the effective date.

Water Conservation in Landscaping Act (AB 2515)

On or before January 1, 2020, and every 3 years thereafter, the Department of Water Resources are required to update the model water-efficient landscaping ordinance or find another means to improve water efficiency. This means landscaping requirements might change in the future, and continue to change every 3 years.

Becky 201509 Becky Bower is a writer for the ApplyConnect® Blog and the communications executive at ApplyConnect®, a consumer initiated tenant screening company.  She has also spent several years in compliance and auditing.  Becky holds a degree in English with a focus in creative writing from CSU Channel Islands and is a published writer.

What Are the Potential Benefits of Exchanging into a Delaware Statutory Trust Property?

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Dwight Kay | www.kpi1031.com

dstproperty_1

There are a number of potential benefits of exchanging into a Delaware Statutory Trust (DST) 1031 property. It is important to note that these should be carefully weighed with the potential risks that we have outlined at the end of this article. You should also read the risk section of each DST 1031 property’s offering materials in detail prior to investing.

Eliminating the day-to-day headaches of property management
Many of our clients are at or near retirement, and they are tired of the hassles that real estate ownership and management often bring. They are tired of the tenants, toilets and trash and are wanting to move away from actively managing properties. The DST 1031 property provides a passive ownership structure, allowing them to enjoy retirement, grandkids, travel and leisure, as well as to focus on other things that they are more passionate about instead of property management headaches.

Tax deferral using the 1031 exchange
Many of our clients have wanted to sell their apartments, rentals and commercial properties for years but haven’t been able to find a property to exchange into and just can’t stomach the tax bill after adding up federal capital gains tax, state capital gains tax, depreciation recapture tax and the Medicare surtax. The DST 1031 property solution provides investors an ability to move from an active to a passive role of real estate ownership on a tax-deferred basis.

Increased cash flow potential
Many investors are receiving a lower amount of cash flow on their current properties than they could be, due to their properties having under-market rents, properties that have multiple vacancies and/or that are raw or vacant land sitting idle. DST 1031 exchange properties provide an opportunity for investors to potentially increase their cash flow on their real estate holdings via a tax deferred 1031 exchange.

Portfolio diversification by geography and property types
Often times, 1031 investors are selling a property that comprises a substantial amount of their net worth. They want to reduce their potential risk and instead of buying one property (such as another apartment building) or one NNN building (such as a Walgreens pharmacy or Taco Bell restaurant) they decide that investing into a diversified portfolio of DST 1031 properties with multiple locations, asset classes (property types) and tenants is a better fit for their goals and objectives.

This is similar to how investors tend to invest retirement funds in mutual funds and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), as opposed to placing their entire retirement savings into the stock of one particular company. However, it is important to note that there are no assurances that diversification will produce profits or guarantee against loss.

Long-term non-recourse financing locked and in place to satisfy debt replacement requirements of the 1031 exchange
One of the requirements for a 1031 exchange is to take on “equal or greater debt” in the replacement property to what you had in the relinquished property (the property you are selling). In today’s lending environment, it is often hard for investors to obtain non-recourse financing at an acceptable interest rate and terms. Due to the DST 1031 properties’ sponsors typically having strong lending relationships, they are able to secure non-recourse financing at some of the best terms available in the marketplace. The DST 1031 investors are the direct recipient of these financing terms that they would otherwise often not be able to obtain on their own.

Access to Institutional Grade Real Estate
DST 1031 properties provide access to large, institutional-grade real estate that is often otherwise outside of an individual investor’s price point. With the typical minimum investment of $100,000, investors are still able to purchase an ownership interest in large $20 million-plus apartment communities, $5 million-plus pharmacies or $15 million grocery stores, for example. This allows investors access to a level of real estate that they just would not have been able to exchange into before.

That being said, we also have had many clients with very large 1031 exchanges opt to invest in DST 1031 properties because they did not want to place “all their eggs into one basket” by purchasing one single, large investment property.

Unlocking trapped equity
For those investors that have a substantial amount of equity in raw or unimproved land (as well as investors with vacant properties that are not producing any cash flow), the DST 1031 property allows them the opportunity to sell, defer taxes via a 1031 exchange and unlock the trapped equity that they have in their properties. Now this trapped equity is free to produce for the investor potential cash flow on a monthly basis.

Ability to typically close on a DST 1031 property typically within three to five business days of completing and returning subscription documents
This is one of the main reasons why investors in their 45-day identification period “time crunch” often turn to DST properties. They are able to close quickly and complete their exchanges due to the properties being pre- packaged, as opposed to waiting 30, 60 or 90 days to purchase another outside property.

Increased tax efficiency due to depreciation deductions on replacement property
Investors that have owned their apartments and rental properties for longer than 27.5 years and commercial properties for longer than 39 years have fully depreciated the properties, with no more deductions to help shelter the rental income. By purchasing DST 1031 properties that have a greater amount of financing than their relinquished (sold) properties, those investors are creating for themselves a new basis to shelter rental income through. We encourage all investors to speak with their CPA and tax attorney regarding this prior to investing in DST 1031 properties for details regarding their particular situation.

Increased tax efficiency due to interest write-offs
For investors that have fully paid off their properties, the DST 1031 properties with financing in place provide for interest write-offs to help shelter potential cash flows. Many clients in today’s environment are looking for a way to increase tax efficiency due to the burdensome tax system in place in the United States. The DST 1031 can help to potentially solve some of these tax problems.

Dwight Kay

CEO and Founder

Dwight Kay is the Founder and CEO of Kay Properties and Investments, LLC (Kay Properties). Kay Properties is a provider of DST brokerage and advisory services headquartered in Los Angeles, CA with an office in New York, NY. Registered Representatives at Kay Properties and Investments specialize in helping 1031 exchange clients throughout the country purchase DST properties and are securities licensed in all 50 states, Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Mr. Kay has personally been involved in over $200,000,000 of client purchases of DST properties and other securitized real estate products.

kpi-real-estate-investment-3d_smallDwight is a published author with multiple published white papers and articles on 1031 exchanges, Delaware Statutory Trust (DST) properties and real estate securities. He has been interviewed on local and nationally syndicated radio stations on the matters of 1031 exchanges and replacement properties. He also is the author of the published book “Delaware Statutory Trust (DST) Properties: An Introduction to DST Properties for 1031 Exchange Investors.”

Dwight began his career in commercial real estate working for a national commercial real estate brokerage firm focusing on multifamily and commercial real estate. Mr. Kay received his Bachelors in Business Administration from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California, and successfully obtained his Series 7, 22, and 63 securities licenses as well as a real estate broker’s license.

Risks & Disclosures

This material does not constitute an offer to sell nor a solicitation of an offer to buy any security. Such offers can be made only by the confidential Private Placement Memorandum (the “Memorandum”). Please be aware that this material cannot and does not replace the Memorandum and is qualified in its entirety by the Memorandum.

This material is not intended as tax or legal advice so please do speak with your attorney and CPA prior to considering an investment.

This website contains information that has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. However, Kay Properties and Investments, LLC, Colorado Financial Services Corporation and their representatives do not guarantee the accuracy and validity of the information herein. Investors should perform their own investigations before considering any investment.

There are material risks associated with investing in real estate, Delaware Statutory Trust (DST) and 1031 Exchange properties. These include, but are not limited to, tenant vacancies; declining market values; potential loss of entire investment principal; that past performance is not a guarantee of future results; that potential cash flow, potential returns, and potential appreciation are not guaranteed in any way; adverse tax consequences and that real estate is typically an illiquid investment.

Please read carefully the Memorandum and/or investment prospectus in its entirety before making an investment decision. Please pay careful attention to the “Risk” section of the PPM/Prospectus. This material is not intended as tax or legal advice so please do speak with your attorney and CPA prior to considering an investment.

IRC Section 1031, IRC Section 1033, and IRC Section 721 are complex tax codes, therefore, you should consult your tax and legal professional for details regarding your situation.

Securities offered through registered representatives of Colorado Financial Service Corporation, Member FINRA / SIPC. Kay Properties and Investments, LLC and Colorado Financial Service Corporation are separate entities. OSJ Address: 304 Inverness Way S, Ste 355, Centennial, Colorado. 303-962-7267.

Kay Properties & Investments, LLC, is registered to sell securities in all 50 states.

DST 1031 properties are only available to accredited investors (generally described as having a net worth of over $1 million dollars exclusive of primary residence) and accredited entities only (generally described as an entity owned entirely by accredited individuals and/or an entity with gross assets of greater than $5 million dollars). If you are unsure if you are an accredited investor and/or an accredited entity please verify with your CPA and Attorney prior to considering an investment. You may be required to verify your status as an accredited investor.

Prepare for Tax Season with These 4 Resources

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Becky Bower | ApplyConnect.com

tax-planning

As the year comes to a close, take the time to prepare for tax season early. With just a little extra prep work, you’ll avoid a huge headache next year. Here are 4 tax resources to get you started on organizing your office, getting all the deductibles you can get, and achieving a stress free tax season.

  1. Organize Your Home Office in 4 Easy Steps

When it comes to taxes, before you can do anything, you need to be organized. In this article, we break down the organizational process into 4 easy steps. Your office never looked so clean. Read More!

  1. Use Apps to Deduct from 2016’s Business Tax Return

You want to get as many deductibles as you can get, but compiling the mileage, paperwork, and receipts behind those hefty tax deductibles can be stressful. By utilizing apps, you can cut down on the physical paperwork and access everything from your phone or laptop. Easy. Read More!

  1. Cash in on Tax Deductions for Your Rental Properties

When you have a rental property, utilizing every tax deduction you can is very important. Take advantage of our common deductible checklist and organizational list now. This can help you make sure no stone goes unturned. Read More!

  1. Tips to Having a Stress Free Tax-Season

There’s no denying that tax season can be pretty stressful. While utilizing handy apps and utilizing deductibles are certainly important, it’s also important to maintain good communication with your tenants during this time, and setting goals for 2017. Read More!

While tax season might be far from your mind as Thanksgiving comes close, by taking some time to start going through your documents and receipts, and utilizing our tax resources above, your workload next year won’t be as hefty. Once it’s all said and done, and you have that big tax refund check in hand, you’ll be happy you started your taxes early.

ABOUT 30% OF COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES NOT IN COMPLIANCE WITH S.F.’S WATER-EFFICIENCY STANDARDS

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Shared post by: Julie Littman, Bay Area, Bisnow

sprinkler-system

Property owners could soon be flushing money down the toilet if they don’t comply with San Francisco’s 2009 conservation ordinance requiring water-efficient fixtures. Violations could mean a fine of $48/month, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Owners will also be on the hook for hearing costs to resolve the matter. To show compliance, owners must submit an affidavit to the city.

Effective Jan. 1, commercial toilets must have a maximum of 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Almost 30% of the 160,000 commercial toilets in San Francisco are not in compliance with a city law requiring water-efficient toilets and faucets by year’s end.

Urinals can use no more than one gallon of water per flush while showerheads can’t use more than 2.5 gallons per minute. Faucets must also use no more than 2.2 gallons per minute. About 86% of urinals and 20% of showerheads don’t meet this requirement.

To help property owners, the Public Utilities Commission has been handing out rebates of up to $125 for a tank toilet, up to $500 for a high-pressure commercial flushometer toilet, and up to $500 per urinal. The PUC is also giving out water-efficient showerheads and offers free installation at commercial properties for a 1.2-gallon basic toilet.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s Julie Ortiz told the Chronicle upgraded fixtures can use up to 50% less water and are one of the biggest ways for the city to lower its water usage. [SFC]

San Francisco Mandates Solar Roofs

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

City aims to be powered by 100 percent renewables by 2025.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors  has unanimously passed the Better Roofs regulation to “fight climate change and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.” The move requiring new buildings to go from solar-ready rooftops to operating solar systems represents a huge step toward its goal of powering the city to attain 100% renewable electricity by 2025.

The regulation means San Francisco builders of all commercial or residential structures with 10 or fewer stories must now include solar panels.

California’s energy standards mandate that 15% of the roofs atop new “small and midsized” structures, also 10 stories or less, be ready for solar.

In a press announcement, supervisor Scott Wiener has said this law provides a way to turn unused roof space into a partner of the city’s sustainable and renewable energy policies. “By increasing our use of solar power, San Francisco is once again leading the nation in the fight against climate change and the reduction of our reliance on fossil fuels. Activating underutilized roof space is a smart and efficient way to promote the use of solar energy and improve our environment. We need to continue to pursue aggressive renewable energy policies to ensure a sustainable future for our city and our region.”

Read a detailed report on this topic at treehugger.

Top Markets for Expected Rent Growth in 2017

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Shared Post from Multifamily Executive | By

rentgrowth2

California once again dominates the list of rent-growth leaders for the coming year, with more than half of the top markets, but it may come as a slight surprise to some.

Oakland tops the list, with San Francisco and San Jose still in the top 10. Oakland’s rent-growth pace has slowed significantly recently, and San Francisco and San Jose are both experiencing rent cuts. There’s been a lot of fear about oversupply in these markets, which could be contributing to the current situation. The Bay Area economy has experienced a notable decline recently, but its job-addition volumes are substantial.

“[Apartment operators] will pretty quickly realize that the [Bay Area] market hasn’t gone off the edge of the cliff, regaining some confidence on pricing power,” says Greg Willett of MPF Research.

The continued above-average growth in these California markets is good news for business, but it’s squeezing renters more than ever. A one-bedroom unit in San Francisco in October rented for $3,373, on average, which is slightly more than half the area median income monthly paycheck after taxes, according to real estate listing site Rent Jungle.

Las Vegas is the second rent-growth leader for next year, at 6.1%, just behind Oakland. The metro was hit hard by the recession but has experienced improved growth in the past 18 months that makes it a great market going forward. Seattle; Dallas; Nashville, Tenn.; and West Palm Beach, Fla., are the other markets defined as rent-growth leaders for the coming year.

Absent from 2016 are Portland, Ore.; Fort Worth, Texas; Atlanta; and Phoenix, which all are expected to come in just under the cutoff of 4%.

Forecast Rent Growth Leaders in 2017

Rank (MetroForecast Rent Growth)

Oakland                                                     1 (6.5%)

Las Vegas                                                  2 (6.1%)

San Francisco                                           3 (5.7%)

Sacramento                                               4 (5.6%)

Seattle                                                         5 (5.4%)

San Jose                                                     6 (4.9%)

Riverside – San Bernardino                      7 (4.5%)

Dallas                                                          8 (4.4%)

Nashville                                                    8 (4.4%)

West Palm Beach                                       8 (4.4%)

Los Angeles                                              11 (4.3%)

San Diego                                                  11 (4.3%)

Fort Lauderdale                                       13 (4.2%)

Kayla Devon

Kayla Devon is an associate editor for Hanley Wood’s residential construction group. She covers business, products, and technology for both Builder and Multifamily Executive magazines. Find her on Twitter: @KaylaDevon_HW

4 KEY CHALLENGES IN COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE FOR 2017

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Shared post from IREM | Saraf Ahmed, Bisnow

cre-2017

As 2016 rapidly comes to a close, Bisnow takes a look at the concerns and priorities for real estate firms in the year ahead. Bisnow sought out IREM president Michael T. Lanning, whose background includes SVP and market leader at Cushman & Wakefield in Kansas City, MO. The following are his four biggest challenges for the industry to tackle in 2017.

Talent Growth

To keep up the momentum, management teams must focus on hiring and securing new young talent to the field—particularly with those seeking to establish their careers in the real estate industry over the long term. Brokerages and real estate businesses can do their part by supporting young professionals and mentoring them through internships and in the early stages of their careers. One surefire way to ensure the nurturing of young talent is to reach out to students who may not have considered real estate as a possible career path; IREM’s university outreach program, for instance, seeks out students before they graduate college. Planting the seed early is key; real estate is a tough industry, and those hoping to enter it must come prepared.

Sustainability

As we slowly begin preparing for the challenges and rewards of 2017, more scrutiny is being placed on the reporting and results stemming from each real estate project. Helping project owners and developers outline and reach their sustainability goals may play an important role for a multitude of real estate firms, but should begin to take precedence.

Keeping Up With Tech Advancements

Most people rely on some form of smart tool as their primary form of communication, whether that’s a smartphone, tablet or laptop. Email, instant messaging, video conferencing and social media are now the primary avenues of immediate contact, and real estate firms need to recognize that—and readily adapt to it. “Real estate managers today have to be adaptable to changes in the workplace and in the properties they manage,” Michael says. “And that includes adopting new technologies, software and apps.” Whether it’s lease renewals, remote meeting capabilities, virtual building tours or online banking, real estate managers need to pay attention and adapt as more professionals begin incorporating these tools into their careers.

Economic Uncertainty

Although real estate is cyclical, every player in the industry from the small-town broker to the CEO of Cushman & Wakefield must be prepared to weather every storm. While it is impossible to predict and micromanage every aspect of the market and its effect on one’s business, it is essential to develop evolving tactics and strategies to protect it. This necessitates a wide range of skills, particularly in effectively managing. The only thing real estate brokers and managers can be inflexible on is flexibility, and they should expect to adjust their management focus on a yearly, monthly and even daily basis to satisfy clients, developers and owners.

Read more at: https://www.bisnow.com

No Credit? No Problem: How to Minimize the Risk of Renting to Tenants with Less-than-Perfect Credit Scores

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Shared post by Appfolio

co-sign

What property manager doesn’t prefer to rent to tenants with excellent credit scores? These types of people have already demonstrated that they pay their bills on time, reducing the risk of future headaches when rent comes due. But the reality is that not all renters have near-perfect credit; according to recent reports, the average credit score in the U.S. falls in the 675-699 range and the fact that this is an average means that many Americans have credit scores below this number. Some property managers can’t afford to only accept applicants with fantastic credit if they want to keep their properties full, but there are things you can do to reduce the risk associated with renting to people with less than ideal credit scores.

Tips to Minimize Risk when Renting to Tenants with Low Credit

There are some ways to protect your business and still approve renters who may not have great credit scores or even any credit history at all.

Require a guarantor or cosigner: A cosigner is a third party who will agree to pay the rent if the tenant doesn’t. Very often, rental properties that house a lot of young people, especially students, ask for a cosigner. Young adults may be fine tenants, but they haven’t had a chance to establish their own credit history yet. A parent or other family member may be happy to guarantee that the rent will get paid on time. This helps transfer the risk to a third party and allows people who have not established credit yet to get a good start.

Ask for a larger deposit: State laws may limit the amount of deposit that landlords can require, but there is usually some flexibility. If a tenant has good credit, a property manager may only ask for a one-month deposit, but if possible, it might be fair to ask for a larger deposit from a tenant who has poor credit. This extra deposit helps cover the risk that the tenant won’t make timely payments or even be able to pay at all.

Ask for rent in advance: Some people with poor credit may have access to funds to pay their rent. If it’s legal and possible, the property manager may ask poor-credit applicants if they can pay their rent a few months in advance. For example, instead of just requiring a deposit and the first month’s rent, the property manager might ask for the deposit and two month’s rent. In this case, the applicant would actually be paying ahead one month on each due date.

Require automatic payments: Rental managers might give tenants different options to pay their rent. But requiring automatic, online payments from tenants can help ensure timely payments.

Communicate early and often: It makes sense to have renters make online payments. It might also help to send online text or email messages to remind renters to pay the rent before rent day. It’s also sensible to follow up quickly if a rent due date has been missed because younger renters without established credit may require a bit more guidance.

These compromises may make it possible to approve more rental applications, but always remember to stay within the law and follow fair housing guidelines.  In order to offer a bit more flexibility, it’s important to come up with ways to transfer the risk and in some cases, provide a bit of guidance as the renter pool gets younger. Property managers are human too; some may be motivated to give certain applicants a second chance to rent a home and improve their credit.

Landlords and Natural Disasters

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By  | Original post from RentPrep
natural-disaster-prepMost parts of the United States are subject to at least one kind of natural disaster, and some areas may be impacted by several different kinds. These disasters can often be tragic and cause devastating losses in lives and property. As a property owner, it’s always a good idea to educate yourself on what natural disasters could take place in your area. Then, you can create a plan for dealing with them during and after they occur.

What is a Natural Disaster?

A natural disaster is a significant event that occurs because of normal functions and actions of the Earth and its forces. Examples of natural disasters include:

  • Earthquakes
  • Hurricanes
  • Tornados
  • Floods
  • Wildfires
  • Tsunamis
  • Drought
  • Landslides
  • Sinkholes
  • Volcanos
  • Blizzards
  • Extreme weather, hot or cold

Natural disasters, depending on the severity, can affect an area economically and cost millions of dollars of state and federal money to help the region recover. The impact on a property owner can be significant and even in the best case scenario, natural disasters can create plenty of stress, damage and tenant issues for landlords.

Regional Risk Factors

The biggest natural disaster risks can be broken down into regions, where certain types of natural disasters are most likely to occur. There is no single area that is completely safe from natural disasters, but some areas have increased odds while others remain relatively disaster free for long periods of time. Let’s review the biggest natural disaster risks for each major geographic region of the United States.

Northeast United States

This area is subject to incredibly powerful storms in this area are called nor’easters. These macro storms get their name from the direction the wind is coming and bring heavy rain or snow, hurricane-force winds and coastal flooding in some instances. Severe winter storms can cause power outages that last for a few days or a few weeks in extreme cases. These storms can also interrupt road travel and cause property damage.

Southeast United States

In the states that border the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, the biggest natural disaster risk has to be hurricanes. From the first of June through the end of November, the area is susceptible to tropical storms and hurricanes. Hurricanes bring strong winds, heavy rain, and high waves that can affect coastal communities. A hurricane’s heavy rain can cause flooding inland so distance from the coast is not always a relief from damage. Tornados are also common in this region and can cause plenty of damage.

Midwest United States

From North Dakota down to Louisiana, the likelihood of tornados here are high during certain parts of the year. Known as Tornado Alley, this region generates many tornados every year. With strong winds, tornados can decimate a small town in just a few minutes, and cause extensive damage and loss of life. The Midwest is also subject to flooding disasters due to heavy spring rains.

Mountain West United States

Due to the dry nature of the region, the Mountain West’s biggest risk comes from wildfires. With huge expanses of dry forests and acres of grassland, a small spark can ignite a wildfire that can threaten homes and lives. Another risk of natural disaster in the Mountain West region comes from earthquakes, as several significant fault lines run throughout the region. While there hasn’t been a large earthquake in the area for decades, scientists have determined that it’s not a matter of if, but when.

West Coast United States

Similar to the Mountain West, the West Coast is most likely to be affected by wildfires, but the increased activity of earthquakes in this region catapult this type of natural disaster to the top of the risk list. Even moderate earthquakes can cause damage to structures, and the region has a history of several large earthquakes that have resulted in extensive damage and loss of life.

Natural Disaster Risk Areas

Thanks to decades of study and tracking, scientists and researchers can calculate the areas of the country with the highest risk of natural disasters as well as those places with the lowest risk of natural disasters. Several reports have been created to give residents an idea of what kinds of natural disasters they are most likely to face, depending on where they live.

Here is one report that ranks the top 10 states most likely to have natural disasters, as well as what residents are most likely to encounter there:

  1. Texas—tornados, floods, wildfires, hurricanes, floods
  2. California—earthquakes, wildfires, flooding, severe weather, tsunami
  3. Oklahoma—tornado, snow, flooding, wildfires
  4. New York—snow, ice, tropical storms
  5. Florida—hurricanes
  6. Louisiana—hurricanes, flooding
  7. Alabama—hurricanes
  8. Kentucky—flooding, tornados, mudslides, severe weather
  9. Arkansas—heavy rain, snow, ice, tornados, flooding
  10. Missouri—ice storms, snow, tornados, flooding

This report reveals both the highest risk cities, as well as the safest cities, in the United States:

High Risk Cities

  • Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas
  • Jonesboro, Arkansas
  • Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Houston, Texas
  • Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas
  • Shreveport, Louisiana
  • Austin, Texas
  • Birmingham, Alabama

Low Risk Cities

  • Corvallis, Oregon
  • Mt. Vernon-Anacortes, Washington
  • Bellingham, Washington
  • Wenatchee, Washington
  • Grand Junction, Colorado
  • Spokane, Washington,
  • Salem, Oregon
  • Seattle, Washington

It’s easy to see that where the Southeast and Midwest intersect, there are more chances for residents to encounter natural disasters. It’s always a good idea for landlords and property owners in general to get familiar with the risks associated with their region, so that proper preparation can begin.

Landlord Plan for Natural Disasters

No matter where you live in the United States, as a homeowner and landlord, you should find out what natural disasters may occur where your properties are located. There should be plenty of state and local resources on how to prepare physically for a natural disaster.

Insurance

As a property owner, consider reviewing your current insurance policies and see what kind of coverage you have signed up for. Some areas require separate insurance for certain disasters that is outside of a standard policy. For example, if your rental property is located on a flood plain, your standard homeowner’s insurance may not cover any damage by a flood and you would need to purchase a separate insurance policy for floods. Follow your insurer’s advice on listing the features of the property and even taking pictures to document everything before disaster strikes. Also, educate your tenant on renter’s insurance.

Records

Keep your information about insurance and so forth in a safe place so you can access it after the natural disaster occurs. If you live in the same area as your rental property, keep hard copies of important documents where you can access them easily. It’s a good idea to create digital copies and store them in the cloud or in an online storage facility like Dropbox or as attachments to an email. Even if you are without a computer or power, you will eventually be able to access the documents. They may be the only versions left if your own home is affected severely.

Tenants and Lease Agreements

It’s also important for landlords to become familiar with the laws concerning the destruction of rental property and how that affects the lease agreement. If the laws are vague or non-existent, landlords can include wording in the lease agreement for clarity in the event of a natural disaster that destroys or otherwise makes a rental property uninhabitable. For example, will rent be temporarily abated while the property is being restored or repaired or will the lease be dissolved?

In other words, make sure the lease agreement has specific wording that covers provisions if the rental property is partially or completely destroyed. Of course, check with a landlord tenant attorney to ensure that your lease is compliant with state laws on the subject.

Structural Preparations

Depending on what types of natural disasters your area is prone to, there may be some things you can do to minimize damage to your rental property. For example, if your rental is in a high hurricane area, consider replacing standard windows with impact resistant glass and installing hurricane shutters. In an earthquake area, take the time to anchor large appliances, like refrigerators, with hooks and straps. For rental properties in wildfire zones, choose landscaping that places shrubs and trees several feet away from a structure. Taking the time now to prep a rental property can mean the difference in thousands of dollars worth of damage and may even lead to keeping tenants safer.

Other Factors

Other factors to consider when it comes to rental properties and natural disasters:

  • Whether a lease is terminated because of a disaster.
  • What happens to the tenant if the rental property is uninhabitable.
  • If the tenant’s job and income is affected by the disaster and how that can impact the ability to pay rent.
  • How the tenant might pay rent on time if normal methods are not stable (mail delivery, electronic banking, etc.).
  • How tenants become informed about the steps for them to recover from the loss of personal belongings or injury claims due to the disaster through FEMA or other avenues, as well as from their renter’s insurance policy.

In order to minimize the amount of stress and to ease the financial burdens for landlords in the event of a natural disaster, the best advice is to be prepared. While there is no way to predict where and when a natural disaster will take place, you can control your level of preparation and ensure the best possible scenario for your property and your tenants.

Landlord Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Natural Disasters and Severe Weather

Federal Emergency Management Agency: FEMA

USA.gov: Disasters and Emergencies

Red Cross: Prepare for an Emergency

You can also go online and search for your state’s division of emergency management or emergency department for resources and guidance specific to your state.

What steps have you taken to protect your property from a natural disaster and minimize the stress of a devastating aftermath? Please share this article and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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