Skip to content

Managing a natural disaster or emergency


You never want to think about your community experiencing an emergency event, but they can occur at any time, with little or no warning. And if one strikes, real estate managers have a responsibility to help.

Depending on your local and federal law, your properties’ governing documents and the type of emergency, the duties of a management firm may expand to help occupants prepare for or respond to a critical situation. Tornados, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and the COVID-19 pandemic are a few examples of when property managers may have an obligation to take action.

Before and after an emergency

While your management company doesn’t take the place of emergency response agencies, you can create a plan to facilitate response and recovery from these unexpected events.
Here are some to-dos.

Formalize procedures

Consider the ways you’d manage different situations, and develop a standard procedure for each.

  • What should residents do if there’s a tornado or flood warning?
  • Is there a designated meeting spot where residents can go to get updates?

Whether it’s burst pipes, a blackout or a fire, having defined step-by-step management procedures in place can minimize disorder, speed up response time and help keep residents and tenants safe and calm.

Make a property management company org chart

Having an easily accessible organizational chart helps your property management team understand their roles and responsibilities in case of a crisis. It should identify exactly who does what, such as who will be in charge of communications or insurance claims or be the primary point of contact for first responders and government agencies.

Create your evacuation plan

Residents and tenants need to know how to evacuate their homes safely and quickly in an emergency and where to go once they do, so include a map to the nearest shelters, stores and gas stations.

Get your insurance policies and financial plan in order

Check your insurance to ensure it’s up-to-date, and understand what it covers. Having copies of your insurance and photos of your community, including items such as equipment and other assets, can be a big help if you have to file claims.

Your emergency plan should also specify how you’ll handle related expenses:

  • If there is extensive damage, how would you cover costly repairs or debris removal?
  • Do you have enough emergency funds?
  • Would you need to borrow, take out a loan, etc.?

Develop a recovery plan

While every situation is different, you can prepare by having a list of contractors. You’ll also want to quickly inspect and assess the scope of damages, especially if there are safety concerns.

Funding disaster recovery

If the property has reserve funds, these funds can help cover unscheduled repairs and cleanup that may arise from a natural disaster.

Explore your options and become a valuable resource to residents, tenants, owners and investors.

This information is general in nature and may be subject to change without notice, including any pricing information. Applicable laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. CIT and its representatives are not authorized to give legal, tax or accounting advice. Please contact your own attorney, accountant or tax professional with any specific questions you have related to the information provided that are of a legal accounting or tax nature.

Member FDIC ©2021 CIT Group Inc. All rights reserved. CIT and the CIT logo are registered trademarks of CIT Group Inc. Deposit and loan products are offered through CIT Bank, N.A., the FDIC-insured national bank subsidiary of CIT Group Inc.