Natural Disasters and rental property
Disaster Management Best Practice Guide
- Start a separate disaster management journal (such as January floods 2011) for entry of all reported damage and incidents of properties managed. This could be kept either electronically or in a paper based manner; as long as it is easily accessible by all staff. Also ensure appropriate diary notes and paperwork are placed in computer software and the property file. Draw up six columns to record the following;
- Damage reported and by whom
- Insurance policy number (once advised by landlord)
- Action taken
- Task completed (once all works are finalised)
- Alternatively ensure two copies are made of any maintenance forms; one to be centralised in one file for follow up and management over coming weeks and months.
- Direct staff who are taking phone calls from tenants and any notification of damage that the incident is to be recorded in the disaster management journal.
- Prioritise the damage to property and tenant situation and work on the highest priority first and make your way through the list.
- Contact landlords of known property damage and advise of the situation. (further information is below on procedures). Where possible, send a generic email to all clients advising of the situation and request communication to be in writing.
- Contact tenants of suspected fire damaged property and the tenants of property who have reported damage. Provide them with the FAIR TRADING Fact sheet on Natural Disasters. If the property is completely uninhabitable, advise the tenant that the tenancy most likely will lawfully end. Advise that discussions will be needed with the landlord prior and more information will be provided. If the property is not completely unliveable and has only sustained ‘minor’ fire /water damage, advise the tenant that the landlord will be contacted to discuss the matter further. as soon as possible. Patience may be needed.
- In regards to the tenant’s own property being damaged, advise them to contact their personal contents insurance company. Regrettably some tenants will not have their own personal insurance; in this event, advise tenants that the landlord will be advised and all attempts will made to see if the landlord’s insurance will cover the situation. In most cases, the landlord’s insurance will not cover the tenants belongings.
- There is no legislative duty for landlords to provide tenants with alternative accommodation If available in times of natural disasters; however this may be recommended in some cases as a sign of good faith however many landlords may not be in a situation to afford this option. Landlords may wish to contact their insurance companies to identify if there is any coverage for this situation.
- Contact landlords accordingly and advise the current status of their property and that more information will be provided where required and when obtained. Provide landlords with the FAIR TRADING Fact Sheet on Natural Disasters available from the FAIR TRADING website www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au type in natural disaster in the search field. If the property is not liveable, advise the landlord that the RT Act allows for the tenancy to end in some cases.
- Advise landlords to contact their insurance companies (contents, building and landlord insurance) to report the incident and to start the process of making a claim. Advise landlords to start the claim paperwork process.
- Advise landlords to provide the following information in writing to your agency
- the insurer, contact phone details (email and phone number) and name of contact (if possible)
- the insurance policy number;
- the claim number and
- the insurance paperwork (mostly completed) for finalisation once required works are carried out.
- Explain to landlords that due to the large volume of properties and people affected, all communication to be in writing in regards to this matter.
- Contact the agency preferred tradespeople/contractors in regards to high priority jobs and allocate work. Follow up the contact with a written work order. In high to medium damage property (or if any doubt), contact the insurer for advice before proceeding.
- Assess progress of high priority work daily until tasks completed. Keep in regular communication with landlords and tenants as to progress and for great customer service. Ensure the disaster management journal is maintained.
- Once the majority of the works are considerably under control, arrange for routine inspections to check on properties that have had minor damage. Ensure photos are taken, extensive visual reports are provided to landlords and take action as appropriate (such as advising landlords to make insurance claims for particular cases)
- Ensure all verbal conversations with tenants, landlords and other third parties are recorded in office files; either hard copy file notes or electronic file notes.
- If your agency is at risk, ensure all files are safe and easily accessible (such as back ups of site and retrievably remotely).
- Look after yourself and your team
Source for below information http://www.cttt.nsw.gov.au/About_us/News_and_events/Whats_new/2013/Nsw_bushfire_response_from_the_cttt.html
NSW Bushfire response from the CTTT 21 October 2013
How to request an urgent hearingClearly mark your CTTT application form 'URGENT'. Urgent applications can be faxed to 1300 135 247.
Attach a written letter to your application form setting out in detail your reasons for requesting an urgent hearing. Attach any relevant supporting documents.
If granted, an urgent hearing can be held within 1 to 7 days depending upon the urgency.
Learn more about how to make an urgent application.