Hiring In-Home Services
When you hire an individual or company to come onto your property or into your home, you take on a certain amount of risk, as does the person you’re hiring. There are many issues, including liability for damage to your property, liability for injury to the person you hire, the potential for scams, and who is paying the worker’s Social Security tax.
When looking for workers to do home repair, ask friends for referrals or check listings in the phone book yellow pages. Be extremely wary of unsolicited offers to do home repair or improvement jobs, especially if someone drives up to your home uninvited and offers you a bargain. Get an estimate from more than one business; ask if they offer a senior discount. Get an agreement in writing. Make an appointment to have someone from Legal Aid of East Tennessee look over a contract before you sign it; their help is free to seniors.
Members of the Office on Aging’s One Call Club have access to prescreened service providers and can avoid most of the issues and concerns listed below.
It is best to know the answers to the following questions before you hire someone to do work for you at home rather than regretting it later.
Questions to Ask When Hiring Someone To Come Onto Your Property or Into Your Home
- Who is going to do the work? Does the company use employees or subcontractors?
- Who supervises the employees or subcontractors?
- Does the individual or company have experience? What type of experience? How long has the individual or company done this type of work?
- What kind of background checks are done by the company?
- What is the company’s policy on hiring employees or subcontractors with a criminal background? Some companies might do a police background check, but might not have a policy against hiring someone with a criminal background.
- Does the individual or company have a business license or other appropriate license? Is it current? Is their license held in Knox County, or somewhere else?
- Is the individual or company accredited by a governing agency?
- Does the individual or company have workers’ compensation insurance? Is it current?
- Has the individual or company paid an insurance bond?
- If the company uses subcontractors, does the subcontractor have a license? What about workers’ compensation insurance? Has the subcontractor paid an insurance bond?
- Have any complaints against the individual or company been filed with the Better Business Bureau, the Tennessee Consumer Affairs Division, or any applicable licensing board?
- Can the individual or company provide references and contact information for the references?
- What work or services will be provided?
- When will the work or services start and end?
- How much will the work or services cost and what is the payment schedule? Does the individual or company accept checks or money orders so you can prove that you paid for the work or services?
- Ask for a detailed contract that covers the work or services that will be done, any materials that will be used, the cost and payment schedule, and the start and end date.
NOTE: If you hire someone to work in your home, you may be responsible for paying Social Security and Medicare taxes. You will have to pay taxes if you are an “employer” who has the right to tell the worker when, where, and how to do the work.
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