Recent months have proved just how important disaster preparation is for property owners and managers. Successfully withstanding crises like the ones that beset the country in 2017 depends on advance preparation, rapid response, and a high level of organization and competence. It also takes a lot of time and resources.
This was our experience, too, as our property management teams at our Houston properties faced Hurricane Harvey and handled damage done to our communities in the area. Fortunately, our years of experience dealing with situations like this helped us to minimize the impact of the disaster.
For our investors, it served as a good reminder about the benefits of having professional property management to be ready to react quickly should a crisis arise.
Preparedness Begins Well in Advance
Emergency preparedness is a constant state. In our experience, there are measures that should be in place at all times, such as:
- Requiring residents to have renters’ insurance.
- Meeting all safety codes.
- Training staff in emergency measures.
- Maintaining emergency supplies, like first aid kits and drinking water reserves.
- Having an emergency response plan for your community that includes detailed tenant evacuation procedures.
If an emergency situation arises, you cannot assume that your tenants will be prepared. Management staff should be ready to guide residents through preparing their apartments for evacuation (leaving the water and electricity turned off at their sources, for example) and should encourage them to make arrangements for their pets and keep the management office informed of their whereabouts. Disabled and elderly residents may require extra assistance and may need it urgently.
Emergency preparedness requires time, knowledge, and resources, which individual owners may not have. These are all benefits of having professional property management in place at your investment property.
When Disaster Strikes
Of course, disaster management is exponentially more complex and demanding than pre-disaster management. Prompt and effective action is crucial. Efforts have to be coordinated on a large scale—resources must be rerouted and labor organized on a regional or even national scale, setting off a chain of interdependent recovery activities.
Multifamily community management has an important role to play in this process. Housing is a vital resource in these circumstances and must be preserved, renovated, monitored, and distributed. Records need to be maintained, claims must be filed, and renovations need to be initiated and overseen.
At CWS Capital Partners, we were lucky when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. Only four of our 22 properties were significantly damaged, and in those properties, only the first floor was affected. All of our buildings were heavily insured.
Our local staff worked overtime to help residents prepare and evacuate, and because of our size and resources, we were able to react to the developing situation quickly. Staff came from Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio to help out. Later, as recovery was beginning, staff members came from out of state to help as well.
Other efforts we made to ease the impact of Hurricane Harvey on our investors and tenants include:
- Investors in our Houston-based apartment communities were kept apprised of the situation and the status of insurance claims.
- Residents were given $500 credits to help with relocation and, whenever possible, they were relocated to one of our other properties.
- A resident hotline was created and a contact person was designated to handle tenants’ concerns.
- Rents were frozen at pre-hurricane rates, even though demand for apartments rose.
- Affected residents who were placed at other CWS properties were allowed to sign leases with varying lease terms to provide flexibility to potentially move back into their affected properties once reconstruction has been completed.
- Residents whose apartments are under renovation are not being charged rent for the period they are uninhabitable, which will be five to six months in the worst cases.
We were able to respond quickly and effectively in the face of disaster because we had professional management teams ready to take action. It’s why we've long held the belief that it's best to directly manage the investment properties we hold in Houston and in 10 other metropolitan markets. Our presence and involvement in the local market also give us insight into how the Houston multifamily investment market will recover from Hurricane Harvey when it comes to advising investors on new acquisitions or 1031 exchanges.
If you are interested in investing in multifamily property in Houston or elsewhere in the United States, contact CWS Capital Partners today to learn more. We have more than four decades of experience providing property investment and management expertise to our clients, and we look forward to helping you reach your real estate investment goals.
The information provided here is for your general informational purposes only. It should not be considered a recommendation or personalized advisory advice. CWS has made this third party information available from authors it believes are knowledgeable and reliable resources. However, its accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed and sentiment may change due to legal or economic conditions.
All investments involve risk including the possible loss of principal. You should familiarize yourself with all risks associated with any investment product before investing.
Advisory services are provided by CWS Capital Partners LLC, a registered investment advisor.
Securities offered by CWS Capital Partners LLC are through an affiliated entity, CWS Investments. CWS Investments is a registered Broker Dealer, member FINRA, SIPC.