What if the property you rent is affected by disaster?

Between bushfires, flooding and extreme weather like cyclones and storms, Australia is prone to its fair share of natural disasters.

But what happens if one of these events affects the property you’re renting?

Here, we’ll walk through what renters should do in the event of a disaster, including safety tips, and your rights and responsibilities.

Are you insured?

Before we even begin to discuss what happens if your rental property is impacted by an unexpected natural event, it’s critical to note the importance of contents insurance.

This is something renters sometimes overlook in the mistaken belief the property owner’s insurance will cover their possessions.

That’s simply not the case. The owner’s insurance covers the building, not the contents within it and every renter should have contents insurance to cover the replacement value of their possessions in the event something goes wrong.

In advance

Some disasters strike out of the blue, but others come with advance warning. 

If you have warning your rental property is likely to be impacted by a natural event, take the opportunity to plan what you will do if that situation eventuates and then prepare yourself and the home as best as possible.

For example, if the property you rent is in the likely path of a pending cyclone, there’s a good chance you will know hours if not days in advance.

At this stage it’s important to consider what safety measures you need to take, what items you will require, and then prepare the property by taping windows and securing loose items around the exterior of the home.

During the event

Your safety is the utmost priority during a disaster event, and no property or possession is worth risking your life over.

If you have warning, consider how you will ensure your safety including where you will go during the event and what you will do if staying at the property proves unfeasible.

Then look after yourself! Meanwhile, during the event there’s a chance your property management agency might be impacted too, or will be unable to reach and assist you.

After the event

After the event, it’s important to assess the property for damage and notify your property manager of its condition and any repairs that may be required.

In a major event, it’s helpful to take images of the damage, as this will allow the property manager to prioritise the required repairs and will also assist the owner’s insurer.

It’s also important to appreciate that after a widespread natural disaster, repairs can and do take time. Insurers will generally prioritise making the property safe and secure before they take on any other damage.

Meanwhile, if the property is damaged but still livable, the rental agreement remains in place.

If the property is unfit to live in and you need to seek alternative accommodation, in most states and territories that agreement no longer stands.

In addition, rental law in most states indicates the property owner or property manager can enter the property at any time if there’s an emergency or if the agreement ends because the property is destroyed or unfit to live in. 

How we can help

Our experienced property managers pride themselves on establishing great relationships with both rental occupiers and owners.

We manage every property as if it were our own and you can learn more about our property management services here.

Alternatively, if you are looking to rent a property, you can view the properties we currently have available here.