As a landlord, you have choices about how to run your business. Plan ahead or react as problems occur.
You can put together a system of checklists and forms to make sure you’re consistent. You can build a team of vendors – contractors and companies – to help you maintain your property. You can do your best to anticipate the likely hassles and headaches of tenant problems like late payment, legal problems, and more.
Or you can wait for the call that the heat stopped working on the coldest night in December. You can research your legal options after the rent isn’t paid for the third month in a row. You can frantically call around to find an electrician after your tenant says they saw sparks when they plugged in a lamp.
Ideally, you’ll take the first approach and put a plan in place before a big problem occurs. Doing this saves you time, money, and stress. Before you rent out your property, part of your pre-planning should be to put together a list of vendors you know you can call when there’s a problem with your rental. Here’s how you can do that and feel confident you’ve got good companies on your side.
Check Out Companies Online First
Whether you ask friends and family for recommendations or you do a quick Google search, you’ll need to make a list of potential vendors. Before you call the first one, look them up online. Go to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website to check for complaints. Look up their company on Google or Yelp and read the reviews. Find their website – if they have one – and see what they offer and where they’re located. You’ll knock off a few companies from your list before you start calling.
Interview Contractors and Companies
Once you’ve created a list of potential vendors, you’ll want to schedule interviews. If you call and leave a message, and they don’t get back to you in a timely manner, cross them off the list. You don’t want a company that makes you wait around for them.
Here are some questions to ask potential vendors:
- How long have you been in business?
- Are you licensed and insured? Ask for the specifics – license number, certifications they have, and their insurance limits.
- What hours or days are you available? You want to know if this is someone you can call on a weekend or late at night.
- Will you provide an estimate in writing before beginning work? This is helpful when the job or repair is a big one.
- How are payments handled? If you write a check, it should be made to a business name. If they offer a payment plan for big jobs, you want to know this.
- Can you provide business references?
Follow Up on Your Interview
After the interview, you still have a little work to do, even if you really loved a specific company. Check their references and ask about their experiences with this company. Verify their license. If they’re located in Florida, go to myfloridalicense.com to make sure a contractor is working with a valid license. Anyone who gave you false information should be immediately crossed off your list.
If this sounds like a lot of work, it is, but it’s worth it to have a team you can rely on when an emergency comes up at your rental property. You do have another choice, though. You can always work with a property manager that’s already done the hard work and built a team of contractors and vendors who are reliable and excellent at what they do. If this sounds like the way you’d rather go, contact ERA American Real Estate today. We can help you manage your rentals and reduce your stress as a landlord.