Venable partner Susan Golden was quoted in an article in GlobeSt.com on September 14, 2017, about the impact Hurricane Harvey had on the commercial real estate sector in Houston. The article provided some advice from tax and legal advisers on what owners can do to be more protected when the next hurricane strikes.
"Landlords should plan ahead for disaster recovery, have vendor relationships in place and vet the contracts in advance with insurers to be prepared for the next disaster," said Golden. In addition, Golden provided other pitfalls to avoid, including:
- Flood control measures put in place on one property can inadvertently direct future flooding onto others, so coordination with public agencies and neighbors is essential.
- Regarding recapture of relief funds: it is not possible to use two sources of funding for the same expense, so do not seek federal disaster relief funding for expenses covered by insurance.
- Flood waters spread contaminants, and wet conditions can result in mold and ensuing health hazards, so owners are advised to avoid flood waters and expedite cleanup as much as possible.
- If a property owner is lucky enough to find a contractor in an emergency, there may not be time to negotiate a contract price and scope, so Golden says it is best to get a price cap and time limit for how long the owner will be without a contract.
- Insurers and public agencies look for documentation that reimbursement costs are reasonable, but again, federal relief funding cannot be requested for expenses covered by insurance.