Choosing a vendor for a rental property involves more than just finding a service provider capable of handling whatever service is needed. Every vendor that is hired becomes a representative of the property owner.
For this reason, many property owners choose to utilize professional property managers who often come with a list of vendors that have already been vetted and have shown to be capable of maintaining and repairing a property.
You can choose a vendor by considering these questions to help gauge a vendor’s accessibility, compliance, experience, licensure, insurance, and other basic requirements.
Why Screen Your Vendors?
Vendor service will affect the experience and opinions of your tenants and homeowners. Try to carefully selected before you commit to working with them to protect your business and ensure the safety of both your property and your tenants.
How to Start the Process of Screening Vendors
Begin your vendor screening by examining some key basic requirements like:
- Identifying your specific wants and needs will help you make the right decision when comparing different services
- Do some research on local vendors for each type of service you might require, decide which jobs you can handle yourself and which ones you want to contract out to a vendor.
- Approachability: How close is the vendor located to your rental properties? Are they easy to contact and do they return correspondence in a timely manner? Do they offer 24/7 or emergency services?
- Staffing protocols: Does the vendor screen any employees or contractors that they may send to work on your property? As a landlord, you could ultimately be found responsible if you contract a vendor who employs a dangerous or irresponsible person who causes harm to a tenant, your property, or themselves.
- Experience: How long has the vendor been in business? How many projects (and what type) do they have under their belt? Do they have testimonials or references that you can use to verify the quality of their work and past business relationships?
- Insurance coverage: It is extremely important to verify that your vendor has insurance to cover any damages, injuries, or liability claims if necessary.
- Proper licensing: Make sure both the business license and the individual’s professional license are valid and up-to-date. Unlicensed vendors should be avoided.
Vendors should be happy to provide you with any reasonable information you are looking for in order to secure your business.
You and your vendor should mutually agree upon things like:
- Expected timeline for reviewing any issues, providing a quote, and completing the work (if the estimate is accepted)
- Preferred method of contact
- Required documentation from the vendor, such as contact with tenants, photographs, paperwork, and invoices
- Consequences for not meeting deadlines as outlined in the timeline
- Formal anti-discrimination policies
If you find a vendor you’re interested in, a quick search on the Better Business Bureau website will provide you with more details on any filed complaints. You will likely knock a few vendors off your list before you start making calls.
Beyond the internet, a great way to find qualified vendors is through recommendations and referrals. Your local landlord association should have a list of preferred vendors posted online.
Properly screening potential vendors is time-consuming, but it cannot be overlooked because of the potential consequences. In the end, you’ll have a reliable team you can trust when an emergency or other situation arises at your rental property.
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