While many property management companies have a maintenance staff that is able to handle most tasks, there will likely be a time when a job will need to be outsourced to an outside contractor. While most property managers carefully screen job applicants when making hiring decisions to ward off possible issues, and carefully screen renters before leasing an apartment to them, are you being that careful when choosing a contractor to perform services on your properties? Finding an honest, reliable contractor is no easy task – but the property manager must be conscious of the vulnerability of their renters, and the legal ramifications of allowing an untrustworthy contractor to have access to renters and their belongings.
Here are a few things that you can do when hiring an outside contractor for the first time to ensure that you are doing your best to provide honest and reliable service.
- Research the company thoroughly. Are they brand new, or have they been in business for years? While a new business without a track record may cause some hesitation, don’t just assume that a company in business for years is honest and trustworthy. If possible, talk to others who have used the business in the past, and get their experience not only of the business owner, but about the employees as well.
- Ask if the employees are bonded. Is the company insured? Bonding employees protects business owners against fraud or loss from an act committed by their employee. Business owners that bond their employees typically run a background check on their employees prior to hiring them – meaning more protection for you and your renters.
- Check the Better Business Bureau for a rating. While this may not provide much information on the quality of their work, you’ll be able to see if prior complaints have been filed against the company. Also check for online reviews by Googling the business name. While a negative review is a red flag, there can be several reasons behind that review. Take them with a grain of salt, and continue your own research. Word-of-mouth reviews from people you know and trust are the best kind of reviews.
- Ask if the employees are licensed contractors. While this may seem like a no-brainer, you may be surprised at the number of businesses that send employees out on jobs without a license. If you’re hiring a plumber, make sure that the employee that shows up at your tenant’s doorstep is indeed a licensed plumber, not just an employee of the plumbing business.
While this screening may take some additional time up-front, you’ll be reassured at the end of the process that the people entering your renters’ homes are reliable and honest, and your renters will appreciate your thoroughness and careful selection process, too.