Landlords: How to Deal with Natural Disasters

Landlords: How to Deal with Natural Disasters

Like most West Australians, you’re no doubt aware of the increasing risk of floods, fires, storms and cyclones. It’s part of living in the beautiful place we call home.

You’ve also probably taken steps to protect your own home from natural disasters, but have you protected your rental property? 

Prevention is always better than dealing with chaos, and one day you may also need to know what to do if disaster strikes for both your home and rental. 

To help you feel confident on both counts, here are some tips from the experts!

A residential property damaged by bushfire
Assessing your risks, performing ongoing maintenance, and having adequate insurance are three key ways to protect your rental property against natural disasters.

Top Tips to Protect Your Rental Property from Natural Disasters

Key ways to protect against disasters include:

  1. risk assessment
  2. maintenance 
  3. insurance


Let’s look at each aspect in more detail.

1. Risk Assessment

Risk assessment is the process of:

  • identifying potential hazards
  • ranking their likelihood
  • estimating potential damage 
  • minimising the greatest risks.

You can seek expert risk advice, or assess risk yourself. 

Disaster risk data by location is available from the: 

Your insurer may also advise you.

2. Maintenance

Once significant risks are identified, investigate how to minimise them.

Depending on the type of risk, strategies can range from minor work, like cleaning gutters and trimming trees, to creating firebreaks, cyclone-proofing roofing, or upgrading drainage.

Online resources can help you plan, including:

Local property managers like the team at We Love Rentals can share their valuable experience of risks impacting the local area.

3. Insurance

Many landlords faced with natural disaster damage are saved by landlord insurance. Others sadly face the stress of finding their policy excludes vital cover in the event of a natural disaster.

To choose such crucial insurance, seek expert help. 

Comparison sites are a useful starting point, but CHOICE recommends consulting licensed insurance brokers for customised advice.

Not all property managers are licensed to advise on insurance, but most can share practical insights based on handling client claims. 

Our experienced team at We Love Rentals are happy to help!

What If Disaster Strikes — Am I At Risk Legally?

Preparing for natural disaster risk can help protect your property and your tenants.

But no magic silver bullet can guarantee there will never be damage. 

If disaster strikes during a tenancy, you must consider the requirements of the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), including:

  • whether the property is habitablelocal authorities can assess this 
  • ending the tenancy if the property is uninhabitable
  • notice requirements for entry to assess and/or repair damage
  • what is needed to make the property safe, compliant and liveable
  • whether RTA “urgent repair” requirements apply (some types of repairs must be arranged within 24-48 hours)
  • whether a rent reduction is needed if tenants are staying
  • whether to enforce your own rights under the RTA — for example, where the property is habitable, the tenant is not entitled to end the lease, but allowing this can make repairs much more straightforward.

Always consult experts — a property manager, or DMIRS written resources — RTA breaches expose you to fines.

You could also be liable if the property is unsafe, and this leads to an injury or death. Under common law, landlords have a duty of care to tenants and their guests.

So What Should I Do Now?

No one needs the drama of their rental property being at risk, and tenant safety must always be your highest priority.

If you’ve read this far, it’s clear you want to minimise the potential for disaster on either front. 

So why not take the first step by utilising the experience of the professionals at We Love Rentals? They can get you started on “future proofing” your property!

For friendly, independent advice, email us or call (08) 6254 6300.

I am the licensee of We Love Rentals and provide support to the team whenever needed. I began my real estate career over two decades years ago. While I loved seeing people achieve their dream of a new home for their family, I kept thinking that there had to be a better way of doing real estate – one with respect for the long term benefit of the client and one that focuses on customer satisfaction.