The DIY approach on your home repairs works when you have a limited number of properties, but what happens when you don't have the time to manage every problem that crops up with your rentals? You can't deny your tenants the comfortable use of their home because you aren't able to handle their issue in a timely manner, so you will need to turn to contractors. That being said, finding a reliable and affordable contractor is easier said than done, and many landlords end up dealing with frustrating contractor situations that sometimes make the problem worse. So how can you avoid dealing with contractor regret in the first place?

Seek Out Reviews
Online reviews are your first line of defense against bad contractors, although they don't always tell the complete tale. People are much more likely to post about negative experiences online than positive ones, and things that are negatives to one person may not be things that bother you. Look at the review data critically when deciding how much weight to give them in your decision making process. Review sites that specialize in professional services and contractors, such as Angie's List, may also provide better information than Google reviews and Yelp.
It's also important to be aware of signs of paid reviews, which are reviews the contractor paid for. If a contractor has 5 stars across the board, but the reviews have a similar writing style or generic information, it's possible they weren't left by actual customers. Even the best contractor won't please everyone all the time, and the reviews should reflect that.
Word of mouth recommendations from other landlords, property managers, and friends and family are also valuable. Use your social networks to get as much information as possible on a contractor before hiring him or her.

The Lowest Rates Don't Always Reflect the Total Cost
If a contractor is significantly less expensive than the competition, be careful to look at the total cost you might end up paying. Undisclosed fees and additional costs can make a low cost option significantly more expensive than other quotes. Don't go with the first contractor to get in contact with you. Get multiple quotes before making a final decision.

Ask Questions
Ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable with your contractor. Find out how they do business, the process required to schedule the contractor, payment methods, average turn around times, service guarantees, and other important factors. A good contractor will have no problem taking the time to patiently and fully answer all of your questions.

Define Your Project Scope
It's important to understand exactly what service or services the contractor will be providing you. Don't assume anything when you work with a contractor. Talk to them about expectations, what you need covered as part of the job, and other important scope considerations.

Are They Reputable?
A properly licensed and insured contractor may cost more than other options, but it means you are protected if something happens on the job site. It also means that the work done will adhere to all of the legal requirements and regulations of your region.
A reliable contractor is worth his or her weight in gold, but it will take time to find the right contractor to handle your rental issues. Once you have found the best fit, your tenants can get the help they need, you will have happy tenants who will keep renting from you, and you will have the peace of mind that all issues will be handled professionally.

POSTED September 10 2015 2:14 PM

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