In October 2017, Northern California experienced the most destructive wildfire in California history. The fire burned more than 36,000 acres and incinerated more than 5,100 structures. In the town of Santa Rosa alone, five percent of the housing was destroyed, including one of the homes managed by the local Real Property Management office.
“We had one property under management that was fully engulfed in the wildfire,” says Doji Llamas, owner of Real Property Management SonoMarin. “The fire was devastating. All of the tenants were evacuated so they were safe, but there was nothing left. Everything burned to the ground.”
Real Property Management SonoMarin also had a client lose his own home in the fire. Doji’s team manages the client’s nineteen-unit multiplex located several miles south of the fire. While the complex was unscathed by the fire, the owner of the property was now without a home.
Unfortunately, in a disaster situation such as this horrific wildfire, there is not much a professional property manager can do but simply be supportive. “We reached out to our tenants and property owners, and communicated with them via phone, text and email to reassure them we were here standing by them and to stay in touch. While we do not have any legal responsibilities in covering costs or activities associated with damage or relocation, we sincerely care about our tenants and property owners and have a moral commitment to support them.”
Doji offers this advice. “We suggest all property owners have fire and peril insurance in place prior to renting their homes, and for tenants to secure renters insurance which covers personal property and temporary living expenses due to unlivable conditions caused by water or fire damage.”
To any landlord or property manager Doji says, “When a catastrophe like this happens, make sure you reach out to both owners and tenants by phone, text, and email to let them know you are there to support them.”
Doji has reached out to the owners of the home they managed that was destroyed in Santa Rosa. “They are going to rebuild the house, and they plan to reach out to us in the future.”
Wildfire Safety Tips
The American Red Cross offers the following tips to keep you and your loved ones safe.
- Listen to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest wildfire information.
- Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice – use the Red Cross’s map to track current fires and open shelters.
- Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, especially medications or medical supplies.
For more information on what to do before, during and after a wildfire, visit redcross.org/prepare/disaster/wildfire.
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