Are landlords or tenants responsible for putting up hurricane shutters in Florida?

Posted at 4:43 PM, Aug 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-31 20:48:14-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — There's a big question many of you living in South Florida are trying to answer: if you're a renter, who is responsible for putting up hurricane shutters?

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Lumber is in high demand as homeowners, property managers, and renters prepare for the worst case scenario.

"Cat 4, that's really a monster, it's kind of scary," said Josh Joseph of West Palm Beach.

Joseph is putting at least 20 sheets of plywood in his cart. He manages and has to secure vacation homes and rentals.

"I'm going to try to call my handymans and try to start to secure the properties as quick as I can because sometimes we don't have enough time," said Joseph, who is still watching where the storm is expected to make landfall.

But the question for many landlords and tenants is, who is responsible for boarding up?

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"They'll ask, hey what's the protocol, what are we supposed to do? We always say refer back to your lease, look at your lease first, then have a conversation with your landlord," said Jonathan Dolphus with the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale.

Dolphus said he's been getting calls from clients. Landlords also need some guidance.

Florida advocates attorney Russel Lazega says usually it's in the homeowner's best interest to secure their own property because insurance companies may battle their storm damage claims if the homeowner didn't take any precautions.

"The landlord is required to basically just protect the box, the property that you live in, not the contents, not providing assurance that you'll have somewhere to live you're displaced from the storms," said Lazega.

Attorney Lazega said the best thing you can do as a tenant is get renters insurance, but soon, because insurance agencies may be closing the window of time you can create a policy before a storm.

"The best remedy is taking things into your own hands by buying renter's insurance, renter's insurance protects your personal property," added Lazega.

Realtors also recommend you take photos of all the work you've done to prepare the home for a storm, should any damage occur.