Hurricane season is expected to be active this year, and Florida isn’t a stranger to wildfires. Although rare, some commercial buildings have also been destroyed by tornadoes. As a commercial tenant or a commercial landlord, you will want to be prepared. Don’t wait to review your plans. Now is the time to ensure you know your responsibilities. Here are a few items to take into consideration.
Tenants and landlords should review their legally binding leases to determine what they are responsible for in the event of a disaster. In a general sense, landlords are typically responsible for the structure of the building (walls, roof, etc.), while tenants are usually responsible for the interior of their space regarding repairs. If you have any questions or need clarification, reach out to your legal team.
Updated and Required Insurance
The lease will outline the type of insurance a tenant is required to have. Contact your insurance company and ensure that your insurance is up-to-date and includes all necessary policies. Take this time to familiarize yourself with your deductible depending on the type of disaster. Landlords you will also want to review your insurance for the property.
Business Emergency Plan
Every business should have an emergency plan in place. Review your disaster plan with your company and ensure each employee understands their responsibilities. As a commercial tenant, do you have a plan in place if it is deemed hazardous to return to your commercial unit? What is your back up plan? Can your business proceed virtually and temporarily in the event of an emergency?
Communicate with Your Team
Landlords, just as the tenants will need to check in with their employees, you will want to check in with your team. What is expected from your commercial property management team? Do you expect inspections after a disaster strikes? What role will you play in the event of an emergency?
Landlords you will want to consider physically checking on your properties or have your property management team inspect the properties prior to a known emergency. Do trees need to be trimmed? Are there any areas of concerns? Although it is impossible to know what disaster will strike when, basic preventative measures can be taken to alleviate potential hazards.
What vendors do you have on standby? Who is going to make repairs or install hurricane shutters when necessary? Are you planning ahead? Communicate with vendors your expectations and review your service contracts. Often times after an emergency, repair work is slow to commence because of the high demand especially in the event of widespread disaster. Therefore it is imperative to be proactive and take preventative measures in advance. Supplies may be limited for vendors. As you keep communication open with the vendors, you can convey updates to tenants.
It is a general practice for landlords to have the roofs inspected periodically by a licensed and insured vendor. They can generate reports about your property and inform you of any potential hazards or concerns in advance.
Protecting Your Space
Commercial tenants may be responsible for windows and doors. Determine what course of action you will need to take to protect these items because you may be responsible for replacing them.
Exterior Supplies and Vehicles
While most of your items may be brought indoors in the event of an emergency, determine a plan for any exterior supplies and/or company vehicles. Flex and industrial tenants may have the space to move the vehicles into their space. However, retail and office tenants may need to determine a location to store supplies and vehicles if there is concern of flying debris.
Unfortunately, damage can be caused by a disaster. Clarify how this will impact your business or property. As a landlord you may have offered abatement of rent and may suffer financial loss (depending on your insurance), and as a commercial tenant you may lose access to your physical space if it is deemed hazardous. Plan and prepare for the best- and worst-case scenario.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a starting point to review your plans in place in the event of a disaster.