Landlords and Maintenance: Working with Contractors

Posted by Teresa on May 5, 2009 under Landlord Tips, Screening and Background Checks | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

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Maintaining rental property can be a big challenge for landlords. There is always preventative maintenance that should be performed to keep your rental units in top shape. And then there are the emergency repairs that require your attention now.

If everyone around you clears the room when you start handling power tools, you should definitely hire an expert to help you with rental property maintenance. Even if you consider yourself reasonably handy, an endless to-do list probably means you need some help. Sure, you can save money by performing your own repairs and maintenance, but is that the best use of your time?

Finding the right balance between hiring expert help and breaking the bank isn’t easy. Consider these tips for finding and hiring a professional to help you keep your income property safe and functioning properly.

First, determine whether you need to hire out for individual projects, or if you’d rather enter into a longer-term contract for regular maintenance and repairs.

Research your local builder and remodeler organizations—they’re a great source for contractors and repair people. If you contact companies who cannot help you—for example, the work you need is below their ideal level—ask for a referral to an individuals or subcontractors with excellent track records and experience in rental property maintenance and repair.

Once you have contacted several individual contractors or repair people, conduct your due diligence: make certain they have all the required licenses and insurance in place, meet with them to ensure you can establish a good rapport, and ask for references. Your state licensing entity can provide current insurance and bond information. And don’t neglect to contact their references!

Set your job specifications and obtain proposals from each contractor. Award the project based on pricing, experience level, and references, keeping in mind the lowest price may not be the best choice. Work with the firm or individual you feel most comfortable with.

Be sure you have a clear understanding about payments and contract details. Do not fall prey to a contractor who requests payment in full before the job begins. Deposits and progress billing are reasonable, depending on the size of the job. You should withhold at least 10% of the contract price until the entire job is completed to your satisfaction and specifications. And make sure they clean up the job site, too!

And finally, be sure to properly supervise your repair and maintenance people. Do not allow anyone to have unlimited, unsupervised access to your rental property. For more security, consider background screening checks on any individuals you hire to perform work on your behalf. Mitigate your liability and keep your tenants safe by knowing exactly who you are hiring.

For more landlord resources, including everything you need to know about tenant screening, turn to You’ll know that you have the best possible tenants when you prescreen tenants.