When a pipe bursts at your rental property, are you ready to diy the maintenance or do you “have a guy” for that?
While some maintenance tasks can be easily handled in-house, other times you will have to reference your preferred vendor list to get the job done. Vendors for rental property maintenance include plumbers, painters, landscapers, electricians, roofers, cleaners, contractors, HVAC servicemen, chimney sweeps, pest control guys, and others who keep your property in tip top shape.
Anyone you hire to service your rental will become a representative of your business and their service will affect the experience of your tenants and owners. The best way to protect your business’s reputation and keep your property and tenants safe is to carefully select your maintenance vendors before your decide to work with them.
Screen Your Maintenance Vendors
While every vendor should be vetted before you hire them, maintenance vendors are especially important to screen because they interact with tenants and pose a potential liability to your business.
Begin your vendor screening by examining their accessibility, compliance, experience, licensure, insurance, and other basic requirements.
Vendor accessibility involves physical locations and availability to work on your properties. Is the vendor located close to your rental property? Are they easy to contact and return correspondence in a timely manner? Do they offer 24/7 services or emergency solutions?
Make sure both the business license and the individual’s professional license are up-to-date. Unlicensed vendors should be avoided. You want to know the status of the state, county, or city license if required by local statutes.
Your vendors should have insurance to cover any damages, injuries, or liability claims if necessary.
How long has the vendor been in business? Do they have testimonials or referrals that allow you can assess their quality of work and interpersonal skills?
Does the vendor screen their employees or the contractors they might send to your property? A property manager or landlord could ultimately be found responsible if they contracted a vendor who employed a dangerous or irresponsible person that caused harm to a tenant, the property, or themselves. It’s always good practice to do your part of due diligence to protect yourself.
Getting to Know Your Vendor Candidates
Any professional should be happy to provide the above information to you in order to secure your business. If a vendor is hesitant or refuses, that should be a red flag not to work with them. Create a system for researching your top choices to make sure everything is up-to-date and valid (like licenses and insurance policies).
You can also take advantage of vendor screening services that check criminal and financial backgrounds of vendors and their businesses.
Vendor Compliance with Your Rental Business Policies
You should create a set of company policies and rules you expect all vendors to follow when working on your property and/or interacting with tenants. Once you have an established relationship with a vendor, they should have no problem complying with your expectations, policies and procedures.
You can demonstrate your due diligence for attempting to provide quality service to your tenants and owners, by having your vendors sign and agree to your policies, should an issue ever arise.
Your policies should outline a mutual understanding about the following:
- How you will contact a maintenance vendor for required services.
- A timeline for when services need to be rendered, for assessing the issue, providing an estimate, and completing the work, if approved.
- What sort of documentation your vendor needs to provide, in terms of contact with management or tenants, photographs of required work, estimate paperwork and invoices.
- What to do if work cannot be performed at the agreed upon time.
- Your anti-discrimination policy.
Interviewing and vetting your preferred vendors should be part of your standard operating procedures and implemented to increase your company’s value, provide an established value added service to tenants and owners and protect your rental business from liability.
Tenants can rest easy knowing that vendors entering their homes have been screened and are in compliance and are on an approved list. Property managers are particularly susceptible to blame by property owners for faulty vendor workmanship or inappropriate vendor behavior. Although vendor compliance does not assure a vendor’s quality of work or his ethics.
How to Find Qualified Vendors
Besides online research for local vendors, a great way to find qualified vendors is to work with a professional network for referrals. Your local landlord association should have list of preferred vendors posted online or an association event will connect you with other property owners who will be able to give word of mouth recommendations for vendors that specialize in your industry.