Commercial Real Estate, Capital, Insurance, Leasing & Management

With Hurricane Coming, What Should Owners Do?

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All eyes are on Hurricane Joaquin, with meteorologist reports indicating it could impact New England.

MIAMI—All eyes are on Hurricane Joaquin, with meteorologist reports indicating it could impact New England. It’s been a decade since a major hurricane hit the United States, perhaps giving property owners a sense of false security about their vulnerability and a lack of urgency in taking the proper precautions. caught up with Greg Matus, regional managing partner of Franklin Street in South Florida about things property owners can do now in part one of this exclusive interview. Be sure to check back this afternoon for part two with his colleague, Ryan Cassidy. What should property owners be doing now?

Matus: They need to assess their properties and their landscaping or anything that could create major damage in a high-wind environment. The other day, I saw a landlord cutting down a massive tree because it could blow into a building. If they’re in the middle of renovation, they should finish it or secure the job site before the storm arrives.

Owners also need to issue a memo of hurricane preparedness to all tenants informing them: when and how they will be notified that the property is open and closed, a detailed list of emergency phone numbers; and whether the property is in an evacuation zone. The memo should be e-mailed and, if practical, printed and delivered to every tenant’s entrance. Property managers should put up shutters well ahead of time, before their staffs become preoccupied with protecting their homes. What your advice regarding insurance coverage?

Matus: Owners should take no chances. We had clients buying properties the week that Erika may have arrive and we suggested to them that they should bind their policies early.

The rule that many private companies follow—is that once a hurricane declared in in a region, they will not bind policies, add riders or other coverage, or issue a renewal if there has been a lapse in coverage. So, if you’re in the process of closing on a commercial property, lock in your insurance now so you can ensure coverage. What responsibilities do owners have to tenants when a storm renders a building unusable due to damage or lack of electrical power?

Matus: The obligation depends on the lease. Depending on the size of the building, an owner can install an emergency generator. For their own protection, owners can purchase coverage against loss of rent or paying to place tenants in temporary office locations. Owners that want to add that coverage should do so now before insurers call a halt to policy changes.


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