How do you handle repairs and sending a contractor?

12 Replies

We've been landlords for almost 7 years and never had any problems with letting the tenant schedule repairs with the person of our choosing for their own convenience, then the contractor just sends us the bill.  This is how I tend to handle things with our tenants and I'm usually the face, not my husband.  I'm always involved, but not in the "setting of the date and time" if you will of appointments for repairs or things I need a contractor to do at the units.

My husband is handling one right now however and he just told the plumber he needs to go tomorrow and call on his way, and he just is telling the tenant, this is what's going to happen and when.  I don't really think this is fair, but he insists that this is how we should be handling things.  

I don't think there's a right or wrong, but I'm curious as to what everyone else does and what's more "normal".  This is not an emergency situation, it's a nuisance the tenants have had for a while and happily been dealing with that I would like to be fixed before winter, as it's a problem that seems to get worse in cold weather.

It's the landlords responsibility to meet the contractor and let him in for repair, it's not the tenants job to be home, wait, while works being done.

For seasoned contractors we regularly use,, we give them a pass key, inform tenant works scheduled to be done and the contractor gets it done.

I don't let tenants schedule,, I just inform when were coming,,  

When I self-managed, I typically tried to get general availability times from the tenant and then ask the contractor which of the available times he could show up. That way, the tenant was there to let the contractor in without my having to drive out there (which I think would be ridiculous and a waste of my time). Many times, it worked fine. Sometimes, the tenant would end up leaving and not being there or the contractor was late and frustrating the tenant....which all lead to me getting phone calls. 

Definitely no right way... it's whatever is easiest on you. If your tenants are the kind that can set up the repair themselves, that's ideal because then you aren't some middleman trying to schedule.

To add, it probably also depends on your class of tenant. Lower-end tenants tend to need more...babysitting...therefore typically requiring more of your time and physical presence. But a higher-end unit tends to have a class of tenants that know how to handle typical life situations such as having a repair guy come by without having to call the landlord very much.

Your husband is 100% correct.

Personally I am surprised you have stayed in business 7 years with your lackadaisical approach to business.

I have never know of a successful investor that has left their tenants in charge of managing their business.

Depends on the situation and the tenant. After a while, you start getting a pretty good feel for what tenants are capable of and what they are not capable of. Example: one of my properties has several "sheltered" college-aged girls as tenants. When something needs done over there, I set the appointments and let the tenants know when it will be, and if there's some kind of conflict I deal with the contractor directly. For properties that are having non-emergency work done, especially if it is something for the convenience of the tenant, and the tenants are highly functional adults, I am fine with having the contractor make arrangements with the tenant - especially when there's not a "nail-down" time, like often happens with HVAC. For anything that's an emergency, myself or one of my representatives will make all arrangements and meet with the contractors at the home, and under those circumstances we generally dictate the terms directly to the tenant (i.e. there's no heat and the HVAC guy has one slot open this afternoon, that's when we are going to be there regardless of convenience). 

In the situation you're talking about that's not an emergency, if the tenants were highly functional adults, I would probably be OK with either approach. My experience overall, however, is that most tenants just prefer that we do all the legwork and they work their schedule around the appointment. 

Thanks everyone!  Our tenants are usually of a medium to higher class, and we typically have a lot of stay at home moms in our homes.  It's just always been more convenient to those women to be able to do it on their own terms.  We've yet to run into any major repairs that have had to be done, thankfully, they've typically been things we do ourselves on our quarterly walk-throughs for PM, or they've been convenience repairs like sanding and re-staining the decks and power washing the siding and sidewalks.  I guess if it were emergency, I'd have had a different approach.  

It depends.  I typically get the call from the client and then I call and schedule the repair person. 

I meet the repair person myself:

1.  If I need to talk to the repair person; or

2.  f the tenant isn't around during the day; or

3.  If it is a contractor I haven't used regularly (a locksmith or something. 

Otherwise, I schedule and just inform the tenant so the tenant can let them in. 

I do have one tenant who tries to get "extra" repairs if I'm not there to monitor so I always go there.  For example, I had the hvac guy come to do the annual check on the furnace and the tenant managed to talk the repair person into changing out the thermostat even though it was functioning, she just didn't like it.  We'd had several conversations with her about this previously.  Frustrated me but I paid it because it was my own fault for not being there and setting guidelines with this repair person.

Originally posted by @Thomas S. :

"Highly functional adults" and "Tenants" is practically a oxymoron.

 LoL. Maybe so. But there are plenty of responsible people that are renters for various reasons. 

Whenever I am notified of an issue, I speak to the contractor after getting a description of the problem from the tenant. Then I tell them the tenant will text them a time to schedule for the contractor to come over. It doesn't fail me. I don't have time to run around and meet people all day, you guys serious with that one?

What's funny is when the tenants ask for a minor upgrade and I say, sure - text Joe Shmoe and he'll take care of it. They don't follow through on it because I guess it's not that important to them, but if I did what some people suggest, I would be spending money I clearly don't need to be spending. Do what works for you IMO. 

I set who will be doing the job, and I authorize any work and cost associated with it....once the contractor gets to the job and inspects etc, they need to contact me if additional work above what we discussed needs to be done..... the contractor contacts the tenant to set up a convenient time for both. I don't have the time to meet contractors at properties and being in the house when the tenant is not home opens a whole other can of potential issues.

That's what I do or the more routine stuff.....if its something major, I will be there to see it on person and discuss it in person with the contractor

I do a mix. I have a great HVAC guy, I give him the tenant's phone number and he fixes the problem and sends me a bill. For minor plumbing repairs such as clogged drains, I have a credit card on file with my plumbing company and they schedule with the tenant and bill my card. When the scope of the problem is unclear, I have a handyman and I'll let the tenant know when he'll be by. He has the master key so they can arrange to be home if they like. For more serious issues or "urgent issues" I'll notify tenants of time and , my husband or the handyman will escort contractors doing work.