Winter has officially arrived. Before inclement weather follows suit, take a few moments to review your disaster response plan. New York City requires landlords to maintain “habitable conditions” in residential properties, even after sustaining damage from storms or other incidents. Such conditions include providing electricity, hot water and, during winter months, heat.
Follow these tips to minimize the disruption of a severe storm or natural disaster.
Before an emergency
- Create an emergency evacuation plan. Share the plan with tenants, and post it throughout the building. Include the location of emergency shelters in the area, as well as any available transportation for tenants.
- Ensure you have up-to-date contact information for building residents so you can check on tenants before and after an event.
- Similarly, make sure that the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) has a 24-hour phone number and email address where you can be contacted before and after an event. (You can handle this online at the Property Registration website.)
- Post disaster response signage. Local law requires building owners who do not live on-site to post a temporary notice with emergency information in the common area. (You can use the HPD sample notice.) Display these notices at the following times:
- Before a weather emergency
- After a natural disaster
- Upon learning that a utility outage will last more than 24 hours
For more information about disaster preparation and response obligations, visit the HPD website.
After an emergency
- Assess the damage to your property once the event passes.
- Contact your insurance provider to start the claim process.
- If the building sustains damage, inform tenants of any repairs, as well as the progress of repairs or any delays.
- To apply for federal reimbursement after a natural disaster, contact FEMA online or call 800-621-3362. But before you do this, read below.
The Small Business Association (SBA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have teamed up to offer programs to help business owners and non-profits recover from disasters.
LendEDU, a marketplace offering free financial resources and services to consumers, published an in-depth guide to the basics of SBA Disaster Loans & FEMA Assistance. This article can help landlords, building owners and other small business owners face disaster recovery armed with a list of resources, including how to register for assistance, details on the disaster loan program, application tips and more.