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The past month has been a horrendous time for many in Victoria and South Australia as bushfires have ravaged dozens of homes and commercial properties.
Our hearts and prayers go out to all individuals impacted by these events.
It’s unfortunate times like these that the Aussie spirit really shines. For example, a fruit and vegetable storeowner in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills (where dozens of homes have been destroyed) delivered 65kg of fruit to the local fire station free of charge.
This is what Aussies do…look out for each other and do what we can to help.
As the fires are put out and people try to get back to their lives it will be time to take stock. Were there things that property owners and/or investors could have done to prevent or minimise a loss?
That will be for the insurers to decide, but as property investors, looking forward we can do our best to ensure that our properties are well looked after and that we’ve done everything possible to ensure both our tenants’ and our property’s safety.
Review your insurance policy(ies) to see what’s covered. In general, your landlord insurance policy should cover the effects of natural disasters such as a bushfire, but read it through carefully so that you’ll know what to expect should you have to make a claim.
Government & Industry Intervention
Once the bushfire locations have been deemed catastrophic, individuals who have suffered a loss will “go to the front of line” with their claims given priority over others.
Emergency grants and temporary shelter are often provided and in many cases lending institutions and businesses will help financially by suspending payments and/or fees or restructuring loans without incurring fees.
Unfortunately, nobody knows just when a natural disaster such as a bushfire will strike, but there are a number of things experts recommend property owners do to lessen the risk of property loss:
- Have your property manager review a list of bushfire safety strategies when doing routine inspections – especially during fire season.
- Keep the gutters clear of debris.
- Prune trees that are near the house including any branches that hang over it.
- Keep the grass cut short and leaves raked up.
- You should have a minimum of one garden hose that will reach your property’s perimeter.
- Don’t store any flammable materials close to the home, including recycling materials such as newspapers and cardboard.
- LPG gas bottle valves should face away from the house.
- If you have a pool, keep the chemicals stored away from other flammables to prevent a fire.
Encourage your tenants to put together a safety plan and have one yourself. If you plan to visit your property while the fires are raging follow all instructions from emergency professionals.
If it’s been deemed unsafe, then don’t enter in.
Have your property manager touch base with your tenants to ensure their safety and assist them however possible.
Consider installing a sprinkler system on your roof to quickly wipe out any small fires and embers before they take hold and do major damage.
Some outdoor paints are available which come with a fire retardant mixed right in. Timber structures on the property can be painted with fire retardant coatings as well.
Due to the unpredictable nature of bushfires, often the only option is early evacuation. However, any preventative measures you can take as an investor will go a long way to ensure safety for your tenants and your investments.