Property management can be a very lucrative business. But every property owner must have a list of trustworthy and reliable vendors to handle maintenance issues that may arise on a rental property. This will not only protect the profitability of the property, but failure to address maintenance issues in a timely, effective, and responsible manner will frustrate tenants and increase tenant turnover rates. Ultimately, failure to screen vendors and maintain positive relationships with good vendors can lead to a landlord losing rental income over time.
Finding the right vendor for a Maryland rental property is much easier to do before an emergency strikes. Instead of waiting to search for the right vendor, property managers and owners should consider taking the time to develop lists of vendors who can handle specific potential problems. From plumbing to pesticides, knowing which vendors to call in an emergency can cut crisis time in half.
How to Find Reliable Vendors
Cultivating a list of trusted vendors who can handle any maintenance issues as soon as they arise means you can solve problems before they start. The trick is knowing how to cultivate such a list to begin with. Property owners must properly screen vendors to find those that are qualified and reliable to handle issues quickly and effectively—that means spending a little more time in the research phase to avoid time in the crisis stage.
Some of the major criteria to look for in a vendor includes:
- Local Accessibility. Most vendors offer their services in specific areas, but some may be willing to step a short distance outside their usual service area for an added fee. While researching vendors, Maryland landlords should find ones within proximity to their rental properties and gauge how the vendor responded to the initial request for contact. If the vendor didn’t respond promptly, provided inaccurate or misleading information, or the vendor has limited availability, these are indications to look elsewhere.
- Licensing and Certification. Check the credentials of any vendor before agreeing to potential work and avoid unlicensed vendors at all costs. Before agreeing to service, verify the vendor’s business license and check their professional license status under all applicable statutes. Unlicensed vendors may offer cheaper rates than licensed professionals, but they potentially expose landlords to future liability. It is never worth the risk for a landlord to trust an unlicensed vendor for any work on a rental property.
- Insurance Coverage. Any reputable vendor should carry professional liability insurance. It should be sufficient enough to cover any potential injuries, damages, or other liabilities throughout the time the vendor is working on the property. Only work with vendors who carry insurance and workers’ compensation coverage. That way, you won’t face liability if a hired vendor’s employee suffers an injury while working on the landlord’s property.
- Strong Reputation. When faced with having to choose between multiple similar vendors, try to work with the one with the most recorded experience. Customer reviews are another good place for Maryland property managers to research potential vendors and check for patterns. For example, if multiple reviewers posted middling scores for a vendor and complain about similar issues, this is a good indication for a landlord to look for a different vendor. If it’s a relatively new company, ask them for references.
- Employees. Does the vendor have full-time employees, or do they coordinate subcontractors? Do they vet their employees before hiring them? Any trustworthy vendor should be happy to discuss their hiring practices, onboarding process, and employee culture to earn your business. Once they provide you with this information, you can research on your own to ensure any information they pass along to you, is valid. If any red flags arise or the vendor refuses or is hesitant, its best to go a different route. You can avoid this research entirely when you hire a property manager. Because they have the advantage of vendor screening services that check criminal and financial backgrounds, they can do all the research for you and provide you with the best options.
- Vendor Compliance. Every property manager should develop a set of clear policies that define how vendors interact with the rental property, tenants, and expectations for each service call. Once a landlord or manager develops a professional relationship with a vendor, they should have no problem meeting these expectations and policies.
Finding a Reliable Vendor in Maryland
There may be plenty of opportunities to find quality vendors for a rental property in Maryland. But the bottom line is that finding the right vendors requires time and research. Whether you are a property manager or owner, your ambition is to protect the property. Take time to explore local professional networks and consult other property owners for vendor recommendations. Local landlord associations often post vendor information to let others know about reputable and questionable vendors in the area. These are fantastic resources for any Maryland landlord and can help speed up the search for new vendors.
Researching vendors, checking licensing and qualifications, reading customer reviews, and consulting other local landlords for suggestions is a time-consuming but necessary process. It’s one that shouldn’t be rushed. By investing in a property manager in Maryland, like Bay Property Management Group, they can save themselves a great deal of frustration and prevent future liability. When something goes wrong on a rental property, tenants typically place the blame at the feet of the landlord before anyone else—even if a vendor misbehaves or botches an important job. Ultimately, researching quality vendors is one of the best ways for Maryland landlords to keep tenants happy and protect their businesses.