Why is contractor management important?

You need to manage contractors well. Especially if you’re tired of chasing repairs and dealing with frustrated tenants. Effective contractor management means less time fixing reworks and delays or checking contractors' certifications and insurance. It can also reduce the time you spend finding contractors at competitive rates. But it benefits landlords and tenants too. There are fewer legal and financial risks for landlords, less disruption for tenants, and lower management costs when contractors are managed well. Efficient contractor management makes life easier for everyone - even the contractors you work with. 

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Maintenance and repairs are some of the biggest points of contention for rental agreements. It’s easy to see why. Landlords don’t want to pay over the odds for repairs and maintenance work. Tenants want to live in a safe and comfortable home. No one wants the hassle of cowboy contractors or even decent tradespeople turning up at any hour.

It’s one of the reasons there are clear legal guidelines around when and how contractors can enter residential properties. The National Residential Landlord’s Association (NRLA) further backs these up with their Code of Practice for the private rental sector. Finding reputable and reliable contractors for repairs and maintenance work is the first step to easy and effective contractor management.


What are the key considerations when hiring contractors for property management?

Getting off on the right foot with contractor management means hiring the right contractors for property management. The essential considerations are the same whether you need someone for planned maintenance or emergency repairs.

Correct certifications, registrations and insurance

Tradespeople must have relevant certifications to show they can do their job safely. Insurance is also needed to meet health and safety regulations. As the property manager, you need to make sure certifications, registrations and insurance are valid. You may face fines or criminal prosecution if an incident occurs and the correct insurance and certifications aren’t in place.

Check reviews and references

You'd check an eBay seller’s reviews before spending. Do the same for any contractor you're considering hiring. Ask them how long they’re been in business and for details of previous projects. A contractor with five or more years of experience is preferable. It's even better if you can verify their work with great reviews.

But be careful of any contractor with a 100% 5-star rating on review sites. That can be a sign that the reviews aren’t genuine. It also helps to check for valid certifications and registration with City & Guilds, NICEIC, or GSR.

Balance turnaround times with pricing

When hiring contractors for property management, it’s tempting to go with the lowest price or fastest ones. Be careful not to fall into this trap. If prices are low, or turnarounds are too short, the contractor may be swapping speed for quality.

That will cost more in the long run because corrective work is likely to be needed. Contractors need to be competitive on pricing but still reasonable with turnaround times and rates. Balance pricing and turnaround times. Do this so you hire reliable contractors for property repairs and maintenance issues.

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What are some red flags to watch out for to avoid cowboy contractors?

Cowboy contractors don't back up their claims. Rogue traders may even use scare tactics to get landlords and property managers to hire them. Being mindful of these red flags helps you avoid falling for a cowboy contractor's scam.

  • No references for previous work or projects.
  • 100% positive reviews from past clients.
  • Asking for full payment before starting work.
  • Unverifiable credentials and certifications.
  • Suspiciously low quotes and pricing.

What are the best practices for communication with contractors? 

Strong relationships with contractors rely on open, regular communication. It helps everyone understand how the other operates. This goes down to how often you'll make payments. 

  • Start by giving new contractors a document explaining your processes. Cover sending work requests, sign-off on work, and payment terms.
  • Provide regular updates to tradespeople on projects. You can do this with email, SMS, a short call or a combination of communication methods. It’s helpful to record any communication with contractors for later reference.
  • Liaise with tenants and contractors before making any promises. This allows you to provide accurate cost estimates to landlords, full details of the expected work to contractors, and realistic turnaround times to tenants.
  • Regularly invite trusted contractors to your office to discuss their work and provide an opportunity for two-way feedback on the working relationship. For medium to large contractors, or favoured contractors in key trades, aim to have regular performance reviews.

“Having reliable contractors is so important as they are the ones who interact with the tenant face to face. They can also help to enhance or hamper our reputation. We meet with our medium to large contractors every three to six months, which is very important to give them feedback and also get feedback from them,”

Ben Parkes, Sterling Ackroyd's Regional Director of Property Management

Stirling Ackroyd


How can technology be used to improve communication with contractors?

A contractor management system centralises all of your contractor’s information, from contact details to certifications and insurance policies, and details of past performance reviews. This saves time and helps ensure contractors remain compliant with up-to-date registrations, insurance and certifications.

Fixflo’s Contractor Marketplace saves property managers up to 45 minutes on every planned maintenance task. Many of the necessary steps like scheduling regular maintenance and sending work orders can be automated. This saves property managers hours each week. But it’s not only time that contract management systems save. They also make it easier to track tasks, manage work orders and keep records to create a single source of truth.

By tracking key metrics for contractors like project completion times, adherence to budgets and performance, better decisions are possible. These sorts of details make it easier to spot who your top contractors are and which tradespeople to build stronger relationships with.


What metrics should be included in contractor performance reviews?

Tracking your contractor performance helps gain a better understanding of the quality, efficiency and reliability each contractor delivers. These metrics can be used in performance reviews and feedback sessions to improve the quality of work and give a better understanding of common property issues.

Make sure contractors are arriving on time and following the correct check-in procedures for health and safety.

Track how long it takes for contractors to respond to work orders.

Find the percentage of jobs contractors are able to complete without a follow-up visit.

Understand the percentage of work orders contractors complete within a given period.

Monitor actual costs against quotes and budgeted costs to monitor financial performance and give insight into the percentage of jobs that remain within budget. 

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4 steps for resolving contractor disputes

Even with clear contracts and expectations, disputes with contractors can happen. Usually, these will be about the quality or scope of work, service charges, invoices that are higher than expected and running over job deadlines. When disputes with contractors arise, these steps will help you reach an amicable resolution:

Clear and comprehensive contracts outlining expectations before you begin working with a contractor are crucial. Contracts that include dispute resolution clauses can make working through disagreements and holding contractors accountable easier.

Speak directly with the contractor and clearly communicate any issues with their work. Remember, it is in both of your interests to resolve any issues quickly and amicably.

If you’re unable to come to an agreement, mediation and arbitration are more cost-effective for resolving issues than going to court. An independent party listens to both sides and helps an agreement to be made.

If it’s impossible to reach an agreement, property managers may need to instigate legal action against contractors. This is a last resort as it is a costly and lengthy process.

Glossary of contractor management terms

Effective contractor management often involves understanding multiple key terms and acronyms related to different trades and qualifications to make sure work and tradespeople are compliant.


Accountable Person (AP)

The Accountable Person is the person or organisation responsible for a building.

This person or organisation must take all reasonable steps to:

    • Prevent safety risks such as the spread of fire and/or structural failure.
    • Reduce the seriousness of an incident, if one happens.


Scope of Work

A clear outline of the work to be completed usually includes materials needed, the timeline of the work along with milestones, and an estimated budget.


Work Orders

A document requesting specific repairs or  maintenance tasks.


Change Orders

Documents detailing any changes to a work order or project scope.


WRAS Certificate of Compliance

A certificate to show plumbing materials meet safety and hygiene standards.


Gas Safety Certificate or CP12 Certificate

A certificate showing gas appliances have passed their annual safety check. Landlords and commercial property owners must have these certifications updated annually.



The certification body for qualified electrical contractors in the UK which has replaced ELECSA.


Part P Certificate

A certification showing an electrician is competent and able to self-certify their work as compliant with the Building Regulations.


Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)

A safety device that cuts off power in case of a ground fault.


Remember, if you don't understand a term your contractor is using, never be afraid to ask. Tradespeople vastly prefer property managers who communicate with them over those who don't, as miscommunication can lead to disputes, delays, or bad relationships. Prioritising great communication is a key step in the right direction when managing your contractors.

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