Wednesday, December 05, 2007

How To Spot An Ilegal Contractor

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Tuesday fired a landscaping company for using illegal immigrants to work on his lawn.

Click here for the full article.

No, you're not running for president. And you're probably not even running for your local city council. But the fact is that you could be hiring an illegal contractor. Here are some points to consider when hiring your next housecleaner.

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

2. Make sure that your cleaning company performs extensive background checks on their employees. A background check costs money. And a lot of companies don't perform these checks for that very reason. But they are important. First off, hiring a convicted felon voids the surety bond. This means that if they steal from you, then there is no policy in place to protect you. Secondly, you need to know that the strangers in your home have never been arrested for any type of violent crime or theft.

3. Make sure that your cleaning company is really a company. A real cleaning company pays payroll taxes. A real cleaning company pays income taxes. And if they don't, then it's your legal responsibility to do that for them. Because Uncle Sam wants a cut of this transaction. And if you don't do it for them, then you are just as guilty as they are. Ask for the company to prove that all taxes are being paid. Don't worry! If they want your business, they'll do it.

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

5. Make sure that your cleaning company has more than a handful of customers. Now this technique isn't perfect. There are some quality individual housecleaners out there that follow the law. But the fact is that our business is easy to start. And the fact is that a lot of people use this to their advantage. They can start this business today. Make a little money tomorrow. And then quit the next day. Ask your cleaning company for references. Don't let them dictate the names to you. You dictate the list. Ask for customers only in your zip code. Or your subdivision. Or whatever. You see, most companies have a standard list of references. They hand them out when someone asks. 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 bother. Or the owner's next door neighbor. That's why it is important for you to determine the parameters. And if they can't, then keep your eyes wide open. It doesn't mean they're bad, but it does mean that they might be bad.


  1. Anonymous1:09 PM

    I love this article! I linked it on my site (a community site for Service Workers). Thanks guys! You're the best.

  2. Anonymous5:45 PM

    Your article is clear, thx for it. I don't share your point in the last paragraph which seems to me a bit restrictive.