Letting agents and landlords are urged to step up their awareness of rip-off maintenance contractors.
The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks is warning that over-charging or failure to complete jobs are common problems within the rental sector, and the AIIC says this may cost agents and landlords thousands of pounds a year.
The association says a landlord recently claimed on a trade website that a plumber had charged £90 for tightening a 'valve connection' in a leaking radiator - a job which, according to the landlord's tenant, took just two minutes to complete.
"This is a problem that seems to be becoming more common, but it's something that landlords and agents can address easily. Before employing any tradesperson you should ask for a quote” says Patricia Barber, chair of the AIIC.
"You can also ask them to provide an updated quote once they have visited the property and assessed the situation. What's more, by informing a tradesperson of your maximum spend or budget you can alleviate the worry of being hit with an unexpected bill. It’s then up to the contractor to decide whether or not they want to take on the job" she adds.
The AIIC also advises agents and landlords to use reputable tradespeople and take advantage of resources like checkatrade.com, ratedpeople.com and trustatrader.com.
"As well as using these sites when looking for a contractor, you should also leave reviews when work has been completed. This will help others to make decisions and contribute towards keeping these online directories as accurate and up to date as possible" says Barber.
"When letting a property, you will always need to put aside some money for essential maintenance jobs. However, choosing the right contractor and making sure you receive quotes and inform them of what you're looking to spend could significantly reduce your annual costs" she concludes.