How to Avoid Becoming a Crooked Contractor’s Victim

Because you are a savvy landlord, you routinely run background checks on your prospective tenants. You know these screenings are the best way to keep out undesirable renters while protecting your investment. But are you aware that it is just as important to screen the contractors you intend to hire?

Think about it. Hiring the wrong contractor can result in damage to your property, delays in completing a project and a significant amount of financial loss. In other words, hiring someone without vetting them first will probably be the worst decision you make all year.

The Case of the Disappearing Roofer

Roofer on roof Shutterstock_169825319 For example, you see that a new roof is being installed on the building down the street from your apartment building. Seeing the project reminds you that your tenants are complaining about your building’s leaking roof. Maybe this is a sign that it’s time to fix it.

After you take a cursory look at your neighbor’s job, you ask the contractor for his business card and then ask him to stop by to give you an estimate on re-roofing your place.

Later that day, the roofer comes by, has a brief look at your job and gives you a quote that is too good to be true. So, you hire him to begin the following week. After all, your neighbor thought the man was good enough to replace his roof, so it follows that he should do a good job on yours. Right?

You have determined that much of the leakage is due to the interior gutter system, which the new roofer redesigns to take advantage of existing overflows. This shortcut will make them the primary drainage to create a better flow. He shows you the finished work and it seems to be OK. You’re not a roofer, so you trust him and pay for the job.

About 15 months later, your roof collapses following a night of heavy rain. The weight of the nine inches of water accumulated at the drain causes extensive damage to the building. Inspection shows that the contractor did not install the overflows although he was paid to do so and he is suddenly nowhere to be found.

How could this situation have been avoided?

 A belated investigation into the roofer’s background reveals that not only doesn’t he have a state roofing contractor’s license, he has been sued many times for sub-standard work. In other words, he was completely unqualified to do this type of work.

In just a few minutes, could have saved you from untold hours of contending with insurance companies, bankers, more contractors and a building full of angry tenants. You would have known immediately that this fellow is not licensed to be a roofer and has liens and lawsuits to prove it.

If It Ain’t Broke, He’ll Fix It

Your tenant in a single-family home you own calls to tell you that a hose blew on the water heater and the area around it is flooded. Of course, it’s late on a Friday night and your regular plumber is nowhere to be found. So, you Google local plumbers and finally find one that is willing to go to the home that night.

This would be the time you should visit to quickly run a background screening on this plumber you do not know. In an instant, you will know if he is a licensed plumber, has a criminal record, liens and judgments against him and even if he is a sex offender. But you trust Google and give the man the address of your rental.

When you meet “George,” he immediately says, “Fixing this heater is going to cost ‘big money.’” He fixes the hose, examines the water heater’s electrical system and announces it’s going to be $1775 to repair it. Since it’s Friday night, he asks for a check or cash, which you pay.

The next day, your tenant decides to play back their indoor security footage and watches George deliberately break the water heater’s circuit board. You check your bank and sure enough, the check has already been cashed. In the end, you have to replace the unit due to George’s shoddy work while you add another lien to his collection.

InfomatchPlus to the Rescue

These are just two examples of why you need to run InfomatchPlus background searches on every contractor you plan to hire. Discover if the person has a criminal record, is a sex offender or a terrorist. Are they using someone else’s Social Security Number? You can also order searches for bankruptcies, liens, judgments and even ask them to get a 10-panel drug test.

Our exclusive commercial business credit reports are a crucial tool helping to provide you with the most complete and in-depth evaluation of an organization’s credit ratings data. Investigate contractors and vendors and ensure their business is in good standing.

The cost of InfomatchPlus searches is nominal compared to the potential losses you can incur when hiring a dishonest person or company.