An old saying goes: “People who represent themselves in court have fools for clients.” Like jurisprudence, certain aspects of residential property maintenance are also best left to those who have a particular understanding of the nuances. Anyone who claims to do it all is probably leaving something undone. For this reason, smart landlords outsource. To help you find the right people to care for your investments, here’s what to look for in a property maintenance company.
Once you’re convinced the range of services a company offers will cover your needs, do some digging into their background to get an idea of the nature of its reputation. Run an internet search for the company’s name. Odds are they’ll come up on business review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List. You should also check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the company is prone to attracting complaints.
Any company bidding for the contract to maintain your property should be capable of providing references so you can talk to people who have worked with them previously. Some of the key details you need to explore are timeliness, adherence to budget and the professionalism of their appearance, conduct and services.
You also want to ascertain how well they integrate themselves into the fabric of the property. Do they fit with the character of the environment, or is their presence a disruption? Emergencies tend to ignore the clock — will you get amiable service 24/7/365? Good residential property management companies who also offer maintenance services like Onerent understand the importance of flexibility.
Do they provide regular status reports? Do you learn of maintenance needs right away? The maintenance team should inform you of developing problems long before your tenants notice them.
With due respect to all of the above, perhaps the single most important factor is the quality of the company’s work. Does the company keep to a preventive maintenance schedule? Does it get repairs right the first time, or do workers have to make several trips — resulting in multiple inconveniences for your tenants?
How does the company’s management fee compare to other companies you’re considering? Is it higher or way lower? If it’s at either of those extremes, you’ll probably want to consider a different organization. Because costs are largely the same, most quotes should be within dollars of one another. Too low means the company will likely cut corners to live with the bid. Too high means it’s overcharging clients.
Ask for proof of insurance. The contract should specify that adequate insurance coverage is to be maintained for the duration of the contract. The company should have liability insurance to cover any property damage they might inflict during the course of providing their services. It should also carry worker’s compensation insurance for its employees. If the company fails to provide coverage and someone is injured, you could be left liable.
Licensing requirements for your city and/or state should also be met and all required licenses should be current. Because licensing and training go hand-in-hand, if the company is licensed, its employees are also likely to be well trained.
In many cases, maintenance people will be in your tenants’ homes unsupervised. Insisting upon bonded personnel adds a layer of protection should tenants claim valuables go missing after a service call.
While these are among the primary factors when considering what to look for in a property maintenance company, a number of other factors will vary according to the specific needs of your property. Still though, if you cover these basics, you’ll be well on your way toward hiring a solid property maintenance company.
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