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. In fact, property owners can even be held liable for the illegal actions of a vendor if it can be shown that the owner should have taken more care in giving them access to a property or tenant. It’s important to vet vendors in order to protect a business’s reputation and also ensure the safety of the property and tenants.
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.
Every professional property manager should have a list of approved vendors that can be contacted when needed. Experienced property managers such as Martin Feinberg know what services are likely to be used and are prepared with vendors for all contingencies.
Property managers should have vendors for a variety of services from repairs during tenancy and turnover to routine maintenance and sometimes even business tasks. While it’s smart for every vendor to be assessed and vetted prior to service, it’s especially important to screen maintenance vendors because they interact with tenants directly and can be a potential liability.
Property managers that are new to the vetting process can begin screenings by considering these questions to help gauge a vendor’s accessibility, compliance, experience, licensure, insurance, and other basic requirements.
Is the vendor close to the properties they would need to serve? Are they easy to get a hold of? Do they return calls or emails? Do they offer 24/7 services or emergency solutions?
Is the vendor’s business license and the individual’s professional license up-to-date? Unlicensed vendors should be avoided. Also be aware of the status of the state, county, or city licenses if local statutes require them.
Does the vendor have insurance to cover any damages, injuries, or liability claims if that becomes necessary?
How long has the vendor been in business? Do they have testimonials, referrals, or reviews that will help assess their quality of work and interpersonal skills?
Does the vendor screen their employees or the contractors they might send to a property? A property manager could be found responsible if they used a vendor who employed a dangerous or irresponsible person who caused harm to a tenant, the property, or themselves.
Property managers need to remember that vendors should be happy to provide this information in order to secure business. If a vendor is hesitant or refuses to answer questions or provide documentation, consider it a red flag. Property managers can also take advantage of vendor screening services that check criminal and financial backgrounds to help in their vendor screening process.