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Beyond the physical damage, the aftermath of a fire in your building leaves emotional and financial stress. According to National Fire Prevention Association, there are approximately 100,000 rental property fires annually, leaving behind damages worth billions of dollars. This disaster kills more Americans and causes property destruction more than natural disasters combined. However, more property managers are more occupied with immediate concerns like dealing with tenants and filling vacant rooms, with issues of property fires being the least of their worries. If you understand how overwhelming fire outbreaks can be, you will never ignore them. We have prepared a 7-step post-fire recovery guide for property managers in this guide.
Trace the Fire’s Cause
Collect details about your property fire as soon as possible. By having honest conversations with your tenants, you can trace the fire’s cause. While you may expect tenants to cover up, especially if the fire was a result of their negligence, there is a likelihood that you will gain some insight into the situation.
Notify Your Insurance Provider
Regardless of what led to the fire, you must contact your insurance company as soon as possible. The earlier you do this, the better because insurance providers may take time to process claims. The insurance company will likely send investors to your location, so you may need to file for casualty loss immediately to set the ball rolling.
Determine the Extent of the Fire and Smoke Damage
Once the fire department has declared the building safe for re-entry, the next important step is taking photos and documentation of the damage. Ensure you take an inventory of damaged items and document structural elements such as kitchen countertops and cabinets. It will help you to get proper compensation from the insurance provider.
Secure and Protect the Building
All you want is to repair and restore your property as soon as possible, which can take some time. While you wait, take time to secure the building and protect it from trespassers, vandals, and further damage. The last thing you want is unnecessary liabilities of someone getting injured on your property. Install a temporary fence to secure the entire property and cover broken windows and doors with plywood to prevent breakages. You can use heavy-duty plastic to cover up any exposed area.
Contact Fire Restoration Companies
In most cases, the fire may not result in total loss or damage to the building. Minor fires, for instance, may only lead to loss or damage of a few units, which you may not be able to rent out until they are restored. The next step involves setting up appointments with a fire mitigation firm. You can work with your insurance provider to get the best restoration firm. Remember, each day that the rental property sits vacant counts as a loss to you, so you might have to get the property back online and in habitable condition as quickly as possible.
After evaluating the fire department’s report and speaking with the tenants, the likely cause of the fire should be evident. The cause of the fire will determine who is liable for the damage. As the property manager, you will always be accountable for fixing structural damages and restoring the property, but this does not necessarily mean you are financially responsible. Determining liability is critical, and it is vital to work with authorities for proper determination.
Begin the Recovery Process
Once the local authorities have cleared everything, you can now begin restoring your property and returning it to a habitable condition. Most importantly, never try to take on this work yourself. Starting the restoration process as soon as possible prevents further damage. A good restoration property management company will take all the necessary steps to restore your property, remove damaged materials, and ensure that your building is habitable again.
Rebuilding after a fire incident can be an overwhelming experience. Fortunately, it gets easier knowing what to do and working with reliable restoration property management. As long as everyone is safe, everything else can be replaced and restored.
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