Dealing with Bad Contractors. You decided to try a new contractor based off a glowing review from a reputable source. However, they didn’t complete the work on time, the wrong materials were used, and your property still isn’t rentable. To top it all off… he’s no longer answering your calls. You’re starting feel like you’ve been taken for a ride.
As hard as it may seem to believe, working with a corrupt contractor can happen to even the most diligent property manager. So how can you prevent it from happening in the future?
Get it in writing. If you don’t have an existing service/repair contract for your vendors, be sure to at least outline your expectations for the work to be performed. Provide them with a signed/counter-signed copy for their records.
Document their work. Any time they don’t live up to what was promised, write it down. This way you have documented proof of the situation in the event you have to take the contractor to court. Mail them a certified letter stating that unless they rectify the problem within a specified number of days, you’ll terminate the contract and/or possibly seek legal action.
Don’t write checks up front. If the contractor doesn’t fulfill their end of the bargain, and you’ve already paid them, you don’t have much room for leverage. The most likely scenario is that they won’t refund cash that’s already in their pocket. That’s why writing checks up front can be a very costly mistake. If they say they want payment in advance, you can offer a 25% deposit of the estimated cost with the remainder paid upon satisfactory completion of the project.
Seek an independent decision. If taking the contractor to court and racking up expensive attorney fees doesn’t sound like a path you want to take, consider putting an arbitration clause in your contract. Arbitration is a relatively low-cost process that doesn’t involve going to court. With arbitration, each party presents their side to an independent third-party who makes a final ruling.
Talk to the Better Business Bureau. If the offense has already occurred, and you didn’t have an arbitration clause or contract with this unscrupulous contractor, consider contacting the Better Business Bureau. This national, not-for-profit association offers mediation for free or at a very low cost through their Dispute Resolution service. You can also file a complaint which could adversely affect the contractors BBB rating.
Taking steps to protect yourself in the future not only can save you hours of aggravation, but literally thousands of dollars in expenses as well!