This is where renters are exposed to climate risks in the US

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Jodi Jacobson | E + | Getty Images

More than 18 million rental units are located in areas exposed to severe weather hazards, according to the American Rental Housing Report from Harvard University’s Joint Housing Research Center.

That exposure is not evenly distributed. While most states have at least one “high-risk” county with 2,000 or more rental units, California and Florida have many.

Harvard researchers combined data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Hazard Index with the five-yearly American Community Survey to determine which units in the areas are expected to experience annual economic losses from environmental disasters such as wildfires, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes. and more.

A high-risk area is one with a “relatively moderate,” “relatively high” or “very high” expected annual loss.

“What the map shows is the number of rental units that are located in areas that have at least moderate risk,” said Sophia Wedeen, a research analyst focused on rental housing, residential remodeling and affordability at the Joint Center for Housing Studies.

How many rentals are at risk in California, Florida

Harvard researchers found the number of rental units exposed to climate risks in the US by aggregating an area’s risk for economic loss from natural disasters. with the number of rental units in those areas, Wedeen said.

There are many rental units in Florida, for example, as well as census tracts, or neighborhoods, that FEMA has identified as at least moderate risk, Wedeen said. The state appears as a hotspot as a result; the same applies to areas in California.

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California has 4.6 million rental units, or 77% of the state’s rental stock, located in census tracts or neighborhoods estimated to face annual economic losses through climate-related hazards.

Florida’s 2.4 million rental units are at risk, or about 89% of its rental stock, according to the Harvard study.

How renters can protect themselves

As more areas in the U.S. become more exposed to climate-related risks, it will be important for renters to consider renter’s insurance and understand what these policies cover, experts say. .

To that extent, landlords and property owners are responsible for any physical damage to the property or unit caused by natural disasters. But their property insurance does not cover a tenant’s personal belongings.

Renters insurance policies usually cover loss or damage to a tenant’s personal property and some even cover living expenses if a tenant needs temporary housing while a unit is being repaired.

Renters should check what types of accidents are included in their renter’s insurance policy. They may need riders or a separate policy to cover perils such as floods or earthquakes, experts say.

Additionally, renters may want to shop around for insurance plans before signing a lease in an at-risk location. Homeowners in some areas are struggling to find coverage as major insurers leave some markets open to fires and floods.

“The best thing renters can do is to make sure what kind of products are available to protect their property but then also … understand risk,” said Jeremy Porter, head of custom impact research. -climate for First Street Foundation.

Renters should understand the climate risks of the buildings they live in and make informed decisions, explained Porter.

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