As a Florida real estate investor or property manager, hurricane season poses major risks to your properties, residents, and transactions. Proactive planning is essential to reduce storm damage threats and keep tenants safe when hurricanes threaten the Sunshine State.
This extensive guide covers everything owners and managers need to know to fully prepare for hurricane season.
We’ll provide tips to secure rental properties, protect commercial buildings, handle real estate transactions during storm season, review insurance policies, document pre-storm conditions, assess damage, and more.
Follow this comprehensive advice to safeguard your investments and safely guide tenants through any storms ahead. Let’s dive in!
Why is Thorough Hurricane Preparedness So Important for Florida?
Florida’s unique vulnerability to hurricanes and tropical storms makes preparation absolutely vital:
- Located on a peninsula surrounded by warm tropical waters, Florida faces hurricane threats from both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico
- The peak months of August through October bring heightened risks of destructive winds, flooding rains, tornadoes, and storm surge to coastal and inland regions
- Florida real estate like residential rentals, commercial buildings, and investment properties, are highly exposed to hurricane damage from high velocity winds, flooding, storm surges and more
- Lack of adequate structural protections, preparedness plans, and insurance can lead to extensive physical and financial damage
- With advanced planning, investors and property managers can significantly reduce hurricane risks and recover faster after storms
When Does the Hurricane Season Peak in Florida?
- June 1st through November 30th is the official Atlantic hurricane season
- During this 6 month period, Florida faces threats from tropical storms, Category 1-5 hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, and powerful winds
- The peak window for hurricane activity is August, September, and October when sea surface temperatures are warmest in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico
- Approximately 95% of all tropical cyclone activity happens within the official June to November hurricane season time frame, based on historical weather data
How Should Owners Prepare Florida Rental Properties Before Hurricane Season?
Rental property owners and managers should complete key preparation steps before peak hurricane season:
- Provide tenants with a written hurricane preparedness plan detailing how to properly secure the rental home, potential evacuation routes, and emergency contact information
- Schedule an inspection to identify and trim back any unhealthy trees or excessive vegetation on the rental property that could damage the home if high winds hit
- Thoroughly survey the roof to check for any repairs needed to prevent water intrusion during heavy rains and ensure it is in good condition without loose tiles or vulnerable openings
- Install hurricane shutters constructed from tested, high-wind-rated materials like steel or impact-resistant aluminum over all windows and doors to protect them from wind damage and flying debris
- Review all insurance policies in depth early to guarantee adequate dwelling and flood insurance coverage levels are in place for each rental property before peak storm season begins
- Encourage tenants to stock up on essential emergency supplies like food, water, flashlights, batteries, a radio, medications, a first aid kit, and other necessities in the event utilities are interrupted after the storm passes
- Clearly remind tenants to closely monitor local evacuation orders for their zone and provide any needed guidance and resources to help coordinate transportation or temporary lodging if an evacuation of the rental home is ultimately required
What Safety Measures Should Investors & Managers Take When a Hurricane Approaches?
When a hurricane or tropical storm is approaching:
- Closely monitor weather alerts and projected path forecasts from official sources like the National Hurricane Center and local emergency management agencies
- For properties in vulnerable coastal or flood zone areas, advise tenants to evacuate to identified safer shelter well away from the approaching storm based on evacuation orders
- Secure outdoor objects like patio furniture, garbage cans, and cycling racks that could become dangerous flying projectiles in high wind speeds
- Avoid any unnecessary travel or outdoor activities once tropical storm-force winds arrive and conditions begin deteriorating
- Advise tenants to remain indoors once winds reach hurricane strength, staying in an interior room like a bathroom or closet without any windows or glass exposure
If buying or selling investment property, take these added precautions during hurricane season:
- Thoroughly photograph/video record the full exterior and roof of the property before peak hurricane season to document pre-storm condition from all angles
- Closely review sales contracts for any clauses related to hurricane damage, insurance claims, delays in closing dates, or termination rights
- Consider pausing showings and open houses if a hurricane is projected to impact the property or surrounding area
- Delay final walkthroughs until after the hurricane passes and the property’s post-storm condition can be fully verified and documented
- Be prepared to postpone closing dates or signings scheduled close to projected hurricane landfall to allow for post-storm assessment
- Discuss needed extensions of closing timelines proactively with real estate agents and buyers early on so preparations can be adjusted
- Secure an insurance binder/coverage for your property before a hurricane has a predicted path, as most insurance carriers stop writing insurance policies when there is a hurricane with a planned landfall anywhere in the state of Florida.
What Insurance Tips Help Investors Recover Quickly from Storm Damage?
Having adequate insurance coverage in place is the key to recovering quickly after hurricane damage occurs:
- Review all policies carefully prior to peak hurricane season to ensure dwelling coverage limits are high enough to fully cover potential rebuilding costs after major storm damage
- Identify any upgrades, renovations or additions to the property that may not be reflected in current coverage limits and account for them
- Request an updated replacement cost estimate from insurance providers based on the latest construction costs in the region
- Evaluate separate hurricane or wind damage policies to supplement homeowners or commercial building coverage
- Verify that comprehensive flood insurance is in place as most standard property insurance policies do not cover flood losses
- Take ample time to fully photograph and video document a property’s pre-storm condition inside and out for comparison with post-storm damage documentation
How Should Investors & Managers Assess Property Damage After a Storm?
Once conditions are completely safe following a hurricane’s passage:
- Thoroughly inspect all structures, exterior areas, landscaping, and roofs to identify any storm-related damage that requires documentation and repairs
- Look for issues like roof leaks, window or door damage, flooding, foundation shifting, debris that requires removal, downed fences or trees
- Photograph/video record all identified damage to submit the necessary insurance claims and secure contractor repair estimates
- Contact insurers as soon as possible after documenting damage to begin the claims process promptly
- Verify contractor licensing and check ratings/reviews before hiring any companies for repairs like roofing, siding, debris removal
- Consult with qualified building inspectors or structural engineers if major structural damage is suspected before allowing tenants to re-occupy the property
Key Takeaways for Hurricane Preparedness for Florida Real Estate Investors
- Take time to prepare properties and tenants before hurricane season peaks fully
- Stock extra supplies of food/water in case tenants can’t evacuate before landfall
- Pause showings, open houses, and closings if a storm is approaching
- Videotape/photograph home exteriors and interiors to document pre-storm condition
- Thoroughly assess and record any damage that occurs for insurance claims
- Carefully vet and hire reputable contractors to make repairs after storms pass
There’s a lot to understand about how to navigate the storm season in Florida. If you have any questions and would like to speak with an expert simply give us a shout.