Preparing for the Worst: A Guide for Property Owners on Severe Weather Scenarios and Tenant Safety

Did you know that around 20 hurricanes have hit Memphis since the 1930s? 

It’s unusual to have a tropical weather event like that. In our region, the larger threat is tornadoes, heavy rain, damaging wind, and of course oppressive heat. No one enjoys thinking about the worst that could happen, but when you own rental property investments, you have to be prepared. Severe weather scenarios have become more common in the last few years, and whether you want to blame climate change or something else, this is a fact: you have to prepare your property and your tenants for bad weather so that everyone and everything is safe

Prepare for Potential Weather Emergencies Ahead of Time

You don’t want to start fixing the roof once you hear reports of tornado activity in the area. You want to make sure these things have been taken care of already. Stay one step ahead of weather disasters by: 


  • Cleaning the furnace
  • Inspecting the roof and the gutters
  • Looking for leaks
  • Preparing for heat and storms

Winterize your Memphis rental property ahead of potential snowstorms. We don’t get a lot of snow, but it’s possible, and a particularly cold snap could bring ice, freezing temperatures, and cold winds. Preventative and seasonal maintenance protect your property.  

During the worst of our weather, you can expect flooding, high winds, and homes that take on hours and days of intense sun. The extreme weather that shows up from time to time in Memphis will be difficult enough to deal with; when you have a property that’s already behind the curve when it comes to maintenance, you’re only increasing your problems and your expenses. 

Be prepared. Ensure qualified technicians are regularly inspecting and servicing your rental property and its functions, and you won’t have a large number of those emergencies. 

Review Your Insurance Policies Ahead of Seasonal Storms

If a severe weather event does damage your property, you’ll want to make sure you are fully covered and able to pay for potential repairs. 

Don’t wait for the storm to hit and an emergency to happen before you find out whether you’re protected against particular types of loss. Make it a habit to check in with your insurance agent regularly. What are you covered for if there’s a tornado? How much will you have to pay out of pocket if your property floods from a torrential rain event? 

There are a lot of different policies out there, and you likely have various insurance plans for your single-family homes, your individual units, and your own liability. You need to be sure your asset is covered, and you need to know what else you can count on.  

Make sure you can access your policy number and the contact information for your agent or insurance company. If these details are written down in a paper file in your office but you can’t get to that office, you’ll want to know that you have them saved in your phone or somewhere online. Conversely, if there’s an internet or mobile outage that prevents you from accessing digital information, you’ll want to know what you’re looking for in a physical file somewhere else. 

Talk to Tenants about an Emergency Plan 

The best way to approach any rental property emergency is to have an action plan. 

An emergency action plan can help you stay focused, organized, and prepared in an otherwise chaotic situation. Depending on the emergency, your plan will include any number of things. Maybe it means finding out who you should be talking to at government agencies where you need to access resources. If you need to relocate a resident, you’ll want to know how to find the best options and where to go when you need help.

Before, during, and after an emergency, you’ll need to be willing to communicate openly and transparently. Make sure your tenants have a copy of your emergency action plan and understand what they should do if there’s a weather disaster. 

It’s so important to make sure everyone has the right contact information. Tenants need to update you when they change phone numbers or email addresses. You need to share your new information with tenants as well. If you’re working with a professional property management company, make sure your property managers know how to reach you at all times. 

Over-communicating is never a bad thing during an emergency. You and your tenants may have access to different information and resources. Sharing what you know and updating each other throughout the emergency and its aftermath will keep everyone on the same page and feeling more in control.

Preparing Memphis Investment Homes and Tenants

On average, we have more than a dozen tornadoes every year. There could be snow and ice. There could be high winds and flooding. Keeping your tenant safe is your first priority. Protecting the condition of your investment is your second priority. 

Preventative and proactive measures need to be taken before any weather arrives. First, stay informed. Make sure you know when severe weather is on its way, and keep an eye on any changes in course. Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and floods can be unpredictable. You have to keep up with the new information coming from state and local governments. 

Put together a supply stash of things like bottled water, nonperishable foods, and batteries. You’ll want candles and flashlights. Talk to your tenants about the importance of planning ahead and putting together a similar stash of things they’ll potentially need during the storm. 

Evaluating Damage after the Weather Event 

Tenant CommunicationYour first priority is the safety of your tenants. Make sure they can reach you and check in with them from time to time during the storm and right after the weather has passed. 

Once the worst of the weather is over and it is safe to do so, get to your property and survey any damage that may have been done. Inspect the exterior and the interior and make a list of anything that will need to be repaired or replaced. Get your insurance claims started if there’s going to be coverage for any of the damage. Schedule your maintenance team and talk to your tenants about next steps. 

Overpreparing for every possible scenario is not a bad idea. Weather is unpredictable and you need to be prepared. We’d be happy to talk more about this subject or anything pertaining to Memphis property management. Please contact us at RiverTown Realty.