When you first start out as a landlord or property manager, you may be able to do most of the upkeep on your properties yourself. As you grow, however, and when things go wrong that are beyond your expertise, you’ll need to start farming that work out to others. Choosing contractors can be a complex process, and sometimes, despite your best efforts, you’ll end up with a doozy. Here’s what to do if and when this happens.
Compile and document the evidence.
It’s always a good idea to have evidence that backs up your assertion that a contractor is not performing well. If they’ve done shoddy work, take plenty of pictures. If they’ve caused damage, get another expert to verify that it was the contractor’s negligence and get it in writing. You should also keep a record of all communication, which is why texts and emails are preferable to phone conversations. Finally, keep track of all monies paid and materials provided, and if you pay with cash, make sure you have receipts.
Terminate the agreement.
In some cases, the process of firing a contractor may be straightforward, but in others, you may deal with significant pushback – especially if there was a written, signed contract. This is when having plenty of evidence will come in handy. Once you’ve compiled all the documentation you need, let the contractor know – again, in writing – that you no longer need their services, effective immediately. How you proceed from there will depend on how the contractor responds.
Additional Recourse Options
If you are out a significant amount of money, it may be worth pursuing further action against the contractor to recoup all or some of what you’ve lost. There are a few options available to you for this. First, if the contractor is bonded (which they should be if you did your due diligence when hiring them), you can file a claim. This process is similar to filing a claim with your home or auto insurance provider. You may also choose to pursue legal action against the contractor, through arbitration or small claims court.
Additionally, if the breach was especially egregious, you may want to file an official complaint with the licensing board. This won’t do much for you, but it can help prevent others from ending up in the same situation.
And, lastly, at the very least, we’d recommend leaving a review on whatever online sites your contractor is listed on. This will provide a warning to others who may be in the beginning processing of choosing a contractor so they’ll know to stay away.
Working with contractors is par for the course when it comes to property management. While most tasks and projects will go off without a hitch, the longer you are in business, the more likely you’ll be to run into a few bad apples. The tips above should help you escape as unscathed as possible.