Most REIs are not handymen or contractors, so when they need to have repairs or renovations done on rental properties, they seek professional help. The last thing any of us want to hear is that there’s a problem at one of our properties – the dreaded three a.m. “my water heater exploded” phone call. But, as we all know, property repair and renovation is part of the landlord equation. Having your repair and renovation team at the ready will reduce your stress and save you time and money.

Let’s distinguish between a handyman and a contractor. The handyman is the person you call when your home needs minor to semi-significant repairs such as plumbing problems (toilets, pipes, sinks, etc.) or small-scale damage (for example – holes in walls and ceilings, eroding brickwork, painting, and staining). A contractor is required when you need to make larger-scale upgrades or repairs such as installing new flooring, gutting, and replacing a kitchen or dealing with structural problems like roofs and outdoor cement work.

A good handyman is a generalist – he can fix a leaky tub, patch up drywall, paint a room, or replace a water heater. Contractors are more job-specific. If you need new carpet, you call a carpet company. If your house has been damaged by fire, you bring in a restoration company.

Okay, let’s say you don’t have a handyman in place, or you just lost one due to retirement, or they went out of business, etc. How do you go about finding a new one? By the way, this advice also applies when you are looking for a contractor.

The most important criteria for finding a handyman is determining if your candidate is well-known in your community and has extensive references. Do any of your friends have a handyman they trust and have used for a while? That’s your best source of referrals and recommendations. Why? Your friends are much more likely to tell you the good, bad, and the ugly about a potential handyman. If you don’t have any friends you can turn to, check out your candidate by reading Google reviews. Search him through your local Better Business Bureau. If the handyman you are considering is a bad apple, it’s quite likely that you can find that our quickly just by Googling him or his company.

Be sure that the handyman or contractor you use is bonded and insured. Do not “cut this corner.” The possibility always exists that your handyman or contractor can damage your property through simple error or, worse, fraud or shoddy workmanship. If your candidate is not bonded and insured, reject him on this basis alone.

Have a discussion with your handyman or contractor about the permits required for the work performed. Fixing a shower drain does not require a permit, but, depending on where you live, seemingly simple things like repairing a fence, a roof, or a garage may require getting a permit from local authorities.

After you hire your handyman or contractor, pay close attention to his first job or two. Does he show up on time? Does he follow through with appointments? Is he organized and tidy? If your new handyman does not comport himself courteously and professionally, find a new handyman.

REIs face many challenges. Having a good handyman and contractor list in place and at the ready will reduce your headaches exponentially. Dealing with a crisis, such as a flooded basement, is terrible enough – spending a day making frantic phone calls trying to find the right company to clean up the mess can turn a bad situation into a nightmare.

If you have a residential property or properties in Westchester County that you are interested in renting, now is the time to put them on the market. At Sterling Property Solutions, we have a team in place that can answer all your questions and address any challenges. If you are already a landlord and no longer have the time or desire to handle rental property management on your own, we can help. Maybe your current property management company is not giving you the top tier service you deserve. If so, reach out. We are there for you.

Please give me a ring at 914-355-3277 or send me an email at Linda@Sterlingpsi.com. Together, let’s form a plan for you to take full advantage of the current conditions and put in place a robust, long term program for your success.