Keeping your property in good shape and responding quickly to requests for repairs is one of the biggest jobs of a landlord. Failing to respond in a timely manner can negatively impact your relationship with your tenant. Providing low quality repairs can have the same effect. To ensure you do your job properly as a landlord, it’s of the utmost importance to hire the right contractors.
Finding a contractor by clicking the first Google result or choosing a number in the phone book isn’t the way to get the best or most cost effective repair. A contractor with good marketing strategies isn’t necessarily a good contractor. Taking the time to find reputable, reliable, and honest contractors you can develop a long term relationship with is a worthwhile endeavor. It saves you money and time and keeps your tenants happy. How can you figure out who’s a good contractor?
Getting references for a contractor is the number one way to find fair, quality workers. When deciding whether to enlist the services of a particular contractor, ask him or her for references. A good contractor should be able to provide at least three positive references. If a contractor dodges your request for references or says no outright, this is an indication he or she is not the right person for the job.
Experienced contractors who do quality work do not find it difficult to provide you with three glowing references. Take the time to contact the people your prospective contractor provides. These references should be able to tell you about the contractor’s level of skill, reliability, responsiveness, timeliness, and more. If any of the references have something negative to say about the contractor, it may be a good idea to move on to another option.
When a tenant needs a repair, he or she wants it done as quickly as possible. Some problems are genuine emergencies, like flooding. Even if a problem can wait a few days, though, one of the biggest parts of maintaining a positive relationship with your tenant is responding as quickly as possible to his or her repair needs. If you hire an unreliable contractor, you may be stuck in limbo, with nobody showing up to fix the repair on time – and your tenant will blame you.
A reliable contractor should be easy to reach, and should be able to give you an honest assessment of how long a repair will take. Contractors who drag out a repair to get paid more or who don’t get back to you for days (or weeks) are not people you should be wasting your time on.
Contractors don’t have to be your best friends to get the job done. However, personality is a consideration that matters. A contractor who is rude or disrespectful to you is not someone you’re going to want to talk to if you can avoid it. This means repairs will take longer. What’s more, someone who is rude to you may easily be rude to your tenant – a situation you don’t want to be creating as a landlord.
Finding someone you can work with long term is the goal when vetting a potential contractor. Choose someone whose personality doesn’t clash heavily with yours, because you may be communicating often.
4. Competitive Pricing.
One mistake many inexperienced landlords are prone to making is choosing an inexpensive contractor. While picking the lowest price may seem like a good idea in the moment, the fact is, a contractor who provides you with an extremely low quote is far more likely than not to do a poor job on your repair or maintenance job. This means their “fix” may not last very long, and you’ll have to spend more money on repeat repairs.
On the other side of the coin, a very high price does not guarantee quality work. The contractor you want to work with long-term is a fair and honest professional, and will charge you a fair and honest price. If you don’t know how much a repair will cost, ask around to get a few quotes. You can then compare the reputations of different contractors.
A property management company can help you assess what a fair price for your repair will be.
5. Honest practices.
Even if you’re not experienced in hiring contractors, there are some business practices that just don’t seem right. Some contractors seem shady from the get go. If a contractor avoids written agreements or won’t sign a contract (often with the explanation, “we understand each other”), this is a red flag. Similarly, a contractor who tries to convince you to use non-standard materials for your repair or shows disregard for building codes should be turned down immediately.
A contractor may ask for some money before beginning a job. However, asking for the entire cost or the majority of the cost upfront is not a standard or honest business practice.
A good contractor will show you his or her licenses and insurance. He or she will not hesitate to sign a clear agreement you are happy with. The deposit he or she asks for upfront will be a reasonable sum, and the materials will be safe and standard.
Whether you meet a contractor in person or talk with him or her over the phone, he or she should come across as organized and professional. Beware of contractors who can’t keep track of your name, or forget the project they’re working on for you. When actually performing the repair, a contractor should have his or her tools and materials in order. Invoices and receipts should be easily obtained.
Part of this organization is cleanliness. If a repair needs a few days work, a contractor shouldn’t be leaving a huge mess in your tenant’s living room in most cases. Once the repair is complete, a professional cleans up after him or herself.
Finding the right contractor takes a bit of work and research. However, when you find a contractor you can build a long relationship with, it’s worth the work. If you need help finding reputable contractors, consider using the services of a professional property management company. Green Residential has archives of reliable contractors, and we can put you in touch with the right person for any job.