There's a ton of information out there about how to prepare yourself for an emergency. There are lists of things to keep on hand, tutorials on planning evacuation routes, and even instructions on how to build your own "survivalist" bomb shelter. But renters with limited storage options and less control over basic utilities must rely heavily on their landlord's diligence and responsibility to keep them safe when the excrement hits the fan.
Before you choose any apartment it's important to know how well the landlord has prepared for emergency situations such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, fires, floods and gas leaks. Here are some questions you should definitely ask them before you decide to rent in their property.
If you're already living in an apartment or other multi-unit housing such as a condominium building, senior housing or dormitory it is still a good idea to know the answers to these questions. If your landlord hasn't planned for emergencies it's possible that your questions will put this sort of crucial planning on the front burner.
1. Does this building have a generator in case of power outages? How long does the generator continue to run?
2. Has this building been outfitted with sprinklers? How about emergency exit lighting?
3. Do you provide fire extinguishers in easily accessible locations in the common areas? How about within apartments? When were they last inspected and recharged? What sort of fires are they rated for?
4. Do you make regular patrols to make sure hallways and fire escapes are clear of debris and in working order? Do you ensure that fire doors are kept closed?
5. Do you regularly clean out dryer vents and service central heating plants?
6. Is there a way for first responders to communicate with residents of the building in case of an emergency?
7. In the event of an HVAC outage, where is the nearest city heating/cooling center?
8. What is the fastest path from this apartment to the outside if the elevators are out of service?
9. Is your staff trained on how to respond to building emergencies such as fires or gas leaks? What are your policies? Does this building have fire drills?
10. What do you consider to be emergency situations that would allow you to access my apartment without notifying me first?
11. Do you always keep track of who lives in the building so that authorities can be notified in case of an emergency? Do you keep next-of-kin information on hand?
12. What sort of automated systems are in place and tied to the fire alarms?
13. Where is the closest fire station? Where is the closest Emergency Room? How about the closest Police District Headquarters?
14. In the event of a fire or evacuation is there a central meeting point where all tenants should meet up?
15. Have any major catastrophes occurred at this building? What precautions have you taken since then to prevent future incidents?
Potential landlords may not know the answer to all of these questions. Others they may not answer truthfully. Agents will probably not know the answers to any of them, so if you're seriously considering renting somewhere make sure that your questions make it to someone who does.
Can you think of more questions that belong on this list? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check out the rest of the articles in the "Questions" series linked below!
... About Applications and Fees
... About Leasing Agents
... About Maintenance and Hiring
... Before Renting a Condo
... About Security
... About Emergency Preparedness
... About Data Security
... About Condo Deconversions
... When Relocating to a New City
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