How to Avoid Hiring Illegal Contractors

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36919982_m-560x320Cleaning Service vs Independent Contractor

I have heard so many horror stories from clients who hired someone off of Craigslist to clean their home, thinking that because it cost a little less that it would be the same as a company. One client came home to their belongings being stolen out of their home. Another client, a vacation homeowner, flew in and found a family living in her condo. It turned out to be the cleaner she hired and her family. Then there was the missing pair of earrings or the $20 taken off of the dresser. The fact is that the average consumer has a lot to lose by hiring an unlicensed or illegal contractor. Here are some things to think about when hiring a cleaning company.

1. Make sure that the cleaning company/individual is bonded, licensed and insured. The key word is insured. Insurance isn’t cheap and having it is a good thing for a consumer. Being insured means that there is a policy in place in case of damage caused as a result of the cleaning. If nothing else, it’s the first step in determining if a cleaning company is professional or amateur.

2. Make sure that the cleaning company performs extensive background checks on their employees. Backgrounds checks costs money and a lot of companies don’t perform these checks for that very reason but they are important. First, hiring a convicted felon voids the bond and this means that if a theft occurs, then there is no policy in place to protect the victim. Second, a consumer needs to know that the stranger(s) in their home have never been arrested for any type of violent crime or theft.

3. Make sure that the cleaning company is really a company. You can visit sunbiz.org to search for the business name. A real cleaning company pays payroll taxes or has a payroll company handle it for them and if they don’t, then it’s the consumer’s legal responsibility to do that for them. Uncle Sam wants a cut of the transaction and if the consumer doesn’t do it for them, then the consumer is just as guilty as the cleaning company.

4. Make sure that the cleaning company only hires legal citizens. A cleaning company hires an illegal immigrant because the labor is cheap. Think about it: If a cleaning company is hiring illegal immigrants, what else are they doing illegally? Now how can a consumer determine if someone is a legal citizen? Refer to point number three. A legal citizen has to pay payroll taxes.

5. Make sure that the cleaning company has more than a handful of customers. There are some quality individual house cleaners out there that follow the law but the fact is that a cleaning business is easy to start. The fact is that a lot of people use this to their advantage because they can start a cleaning business today, make a little money tomorrow and then quit the next day. Ask the cleaning company for references. Ask for clients in a certain zip code or towns. The truth is that most cleaning companies have a standard list of references. They hand them out when someone asks for the list and these three or four people say all sorts of good things about the company. Of course, it could be that the reference is the owner’s brother or next door neighbor. That’s why it is important to decide for yourself which references you want. It may not seem important but hiring an illegal contractor can cause serious legal and financial problems. Of course, an illegal contractor is typically cheaper than a legal contractor but the reality is that no one is really saving any money because the penalty for hiring an illegal contractor can cost much more than just hiring the legal contractor in the first place.

6. Also, if you are thinking of hiring a housekeeper, gardener, etc, this might be of interest to you. https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p926.pdf