When you are a landlord, there is always maintenance to be done. Whether it is a burst pipe or a broken washer-dryer, myriad problems can strike a rental dwelling. If you do not have the time or skill level to fix these problems, you will probably need to hire a professional.
But repeated calls to specialized workers, such as plumbers or electricians, will quickly devour your profit margin. If your rental property is having continual problems, you may want to hire a full- or part-time maintenance worker.
Before you begin your search, check with your current tenants. If one of them is qualified to perform the necessary maintenance, you may be able to work out a barter arrangement in which you trade work for reduced or rent-free accommodation. Over time, this can be a great way to save money on repair costs.
Whether you end up hiring a tenant or outsourcing the maintenance position, there are several things to be mindful of. Asking these 10 questions can ensure that you find the most qualified person for your maintenance position, saving you trouble and extra expense down the road.
1. Are they experienced? There is a big difference between fixing a leaky faucet and caring for a property. If you own a large apartment complex, the complexity and frequency of problems may be too much for the average handyperson. Before hiring anyone, make sure that they are capable of handling the most demanding tasks they may face.
2. What is their skill level? Can the worker handle a variety of problems? Are they qualified to work as an electrician, or do they have certain limitations?
3. Does their expertise match your problems? If you have a building with chronic plumbing problems, hiring someone who is more skilled at carpentry will not be very helpful. Try to find a jack of all trades rather than a master of one.
4. Where do they live? If your maintenance person does not live on-site, how far away is their primary residence? If you find someone who is absolutely perfect for the job but lives too far away, you may want to consider providing them with housing either within your rental property or nearby.
5. Will they work full- or part-time? This will depend on the size of your property and the amount of problems you anticipate. If you have a large apartment complex, you may need to have a full-time maintenance person on the job. However, if you have only one or two rental houses, a part-time worker would be the economical choice.
6. What is their response time? This is very important if your worker does not live on-site. Some problems just cannot wait until morning. For example, if you have a furnace go out in the middle of a very cold night, you will need to have this fixed as quickly as possible. If your maintenance person cannot get to your property in a timely fashion, you may need to find someone whose schedule will permit them to be on an on-call basis.
7. Can they provide references? Request both employer and character references. Have each applicant complete a written application so you can follow up on the references that they provide.
8. Are they ethical? An unethical maintenance worker can quickly drain your wallet and poison your reputation with your tenants. Ask the applicant’s former or current employers about their work ethic and personality.
9. Can the applicant keep up with demand? If you have several properties, or if your properties are spread out over a wide area, one worker may not be enough. Determine the applicant’s pace of work and attitude toward engaging in multiple projects.
10. Are their rates reasonable? If you have infrequent problems with your rental properties, the added expense of hiring a maintenance worker may be more than you would pay for contracting one-time jobs. This is something you will need to weigh before making your final decision.