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  • Writer's pictureSasha Struthers

Handyman v. Vendor- Properly Delegate Work to Avoid Habitability Lawsuits.

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

The handyman is a key component to property management anywhere. The handyman is usually the most familiar with the bones of the building and has a feel for making routine repairs efficiently. The handyman's niche is just that, routine low-skill level repairs. However, I see far too often landlords become overly dependent on the handyman to their own detriment.

The handyman is not skilled in large repairs the need the expertise of those that are licensed and/or certified. While the handyman may be willing to do the work and appears cheaper at the outset, having the handyman do work outside of their scope can lead to work being done incorrectly and result in a professional having to come in and fix it anyways. You now paid 2x if not more to have the repair done.

The Scary Part

Another downfall with the handyman doing very speciality repairs is it might be illegal. Some work requires a permit to be pulled and a licensed professional to do it. If you have ever been through a SCEP inspection in Los Angeles, you have likely received an order to comply outlining the repairs needed to be completed before the next inspection. These orders to comply will sometimes call for permits to be pulled for work that was done without permits and likely by a non-licensed professional. Having to pull permits astronomically increases the time it takes to complete the order to comply. If enough time passes you may be sent to a general managers hearing (which is not where any landlord in Los Angeles wants to be). This hearing could lead to the landlord's rent being collected by the City and held in an escrow until the landlord fixes everything. This is called REAP and safe to say, you want to avoid this situation.

The Part to Avoid the Scary Part

Now that I have shown you the threat of REAP (what I also refer to is landlord jail), you can avoid many issues by knowing what work your handyman can and should do and what work is best done by other vendors.

As mentioned before handymen are best for simple, routine maintenance. Here are the few main things I've delegated to handymen:

  • Painting

  • Power washing walkways

  • Fixing hardware (drawer handles, door knobs, faucets, outlet covers)

  • Fixing broken cabinet doors

  • Caulking

  • Changing batteries in smoke/ carbon monoxide detectors

  • Patching drywall

  • Leveling shelves

  • Cleaning up

  • Unclogging toilets/ sinks

  • Copy keys/ program remotes

The list is not exhaustive, but you get the idea. That work is pretty light and comes up frequently. The next list is work that I send to other vendors. Keep in mind not all of these vendors have to be or are licensed. But I sent things to other vendors because they specialize in what they do and can get the task done faster, better and ultimately cheaper than a handyman can. Some of the work outsourced includes:

  • Tub/ sink reglazing

  • Landscaping/ Gardening

  • Electrical repairs

  • Large plumbing back ups

  • Gas related repairs (gas heaters, leaks)

  • Mold removal/ remediation

  • Pest control (routine pest control, bed bugs, bees, termites, etc.)

  • Floor replacement

  • Gutter cleaning/ replacing

  • Roof (replacement or patching)

  • Construction (building walls, moving walls)

  • Demolition

  • Re-key locks (especially if building is on a master key system)

Handymen are vital to have as they can respond quickly to a number of tenant calls and typically finish the work during their visit. Also, handymen are useful for inspections as they are likely the ones to do a bulk of the repairs outlined in the order to comply to have a heads up of what they need to do while going through the inspection.

More complex items should be addressed by vendors who specialize in the work. If and when it comes down to a habitability lawsuit, having records of repairs done by licensed or specialized vendors can assist your defense. It goes to the credibility of the landlord. A landlord willing to pay more for something to get done correctly and by the applicable professional can save that very landlord headaches down the line, including unnecessary repeat repairs of the same issue.

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The information in this post is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this post should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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