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Police Department Public Information Message
Be Careful to Investigate Home Help
Posted Date: 1/28/2014 3:30 PM

Whether it is your house cleaner, your son's nanny, your dog's walker, or your family's contractor -- all these helpers coming to your home should be screened for you and your family's safety.  The following information is provided when hiring household help of any kind.

When most people think of investing in safety, they consider getting a secure car or finding safe neighborhood, but considering the wrong cleaning service usually does not make the list. Yet families often entrust the care of their most expensive asset to the lowest bidder and unprofessional company. Consider asking the question: “Are there really dangers to me if I hire the wrong cleaning service?” The answer is yes. A professional cleaning company will minimize these dangers to you in three tangible ways.

1. The Right Home Cleaning Service will be Trustworthy
First, remember you are opening your home to people you hardly know. Theft can and unfortunately does occur in the house cleaning business. According to John Case, who is recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on employee theft, you should never leave money or jewelry out in plain sight. For 30 years he has looked at every factor that contributes to theft. His number one rule concerning theft prevention is to remove the opportunity to steal. He advises that most people will not open drawers looking for something to steal but if something is visible many will help themselves to it. The fact remains, leave money or valuable jewelry out in plain sight and you cannot be surprised if it is taken! A professional company will also perform a background check on any potential employee before they are hired. Any prior criminal activity on the part of the applicant should be grounds for rejection. A professional home cleaning company will take the time to learn the facts concerning employee theft, find out as much as they can about new prospects, and do everything possible to minimize theft from happening. An unprofessional home cleaning company will not even think about it.

2. The Right Home Cleaning Service will Value Insurance
Second, it is important for you to be protected in several ways concerning insurance. The owner of a prominent cleaning company relates this story: I was amazed a while back when touring a home and giving what I felt was a fair home cleaning estimate for the work. I met with resistance on the price. The prospect told me that she could get the job done for much less. I asked if the other person/company had insurance. Her reply was that she did not know or care. I was standing in a half million dollar home with expensive paintings hanging on the walls, beautiful marble floors, stunning granite counter tops, and very expensive appliances. Although she did not realize it, her possessions were at risk if a careless home cleaner used the wrong chemical or broke an object, and she would be at risk for a lawsuit if the uninsured home cleaner tripped down the steps and was injured.

A professional home cleaning company covers all bases by having proper insurances in place. At a bare minimum a professional home cleaning company will carry liability to cover damages to your valuables, workman’s compensation which covers injured workers, and bonding insurance to cover theft: A bond is insurance that protects you, the customer. It insures that you will be compensated (reimbursed) if it is proven that damage or theft was caused by the cleaning company employee. In the event of theft a conviction must also occur prior to a payout. The workman’s compensation and liability insurance are expensive so you can expect the home cleaning company will charge you more for the job. But you receive the added protection of knowing if something is broken or ruined it will be replaced, and if someone is hurt on your property you will not be liable.

3. The Right Home Cleaning Service will be Financially Responsible
Third and finally, a professional home cleaning company will pay their taxes. Are your cleaner(s) insisting that cash is the only form of payment they will accept? Under this situation they might not be paying the taxes on the money earned. According to the IRS, if your cleaning service is not paying the taxes as required and you knew about it and did not report it you can be held liable too. The idea is that you knew they were operating illegally and contributed to the situation. All companies will take cash but most prefer another form of payment because it is safer.

These are the important questions to ask yourself next time you are looking for a new cleaning service (or any service provided in your home):
Is the home cleaning company you are considering hiring interested in who they send to your home as evidenced by their doing a background check and having bonding insurance on each home cleaning employee?
Do they care enough about you, your family, and your home to pay for all the appropriate insurance to protect you?
Is it worth your peace of mind to spend a little more money and hire a home cleaning service that is operating legally by paying its taxes?


Mill Valley Police Department
1 Hamilton Drive
Mill Valley  CA  94941
415.389.4100 (T)    415.389.4148 (F)

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