Adventures in Management Dealing with Crisis and Living to Tell the Tale

The incident started out ordinarily enough—a property manager had to tow an improperly parked vehicle from his association's grounds. The tow truck driver pulled up to the car and began to chain it up, but before he could complete the job, the vehicle owner came running out of his condo stark naked, and flung himself down on top of the car in protest. He wouldn't get off the hood until the police were summoned to restore order.

This story, recalled by Jim Farese, president of Cambridge Property Management Services in Totowa, which manages more than 50 associations, is just one of many strange-and-unusual situations faced by the property managers and other professionals who deal with condos and HOAs on a day-to-day basis.

Of course, most condo, co-op and HOA managers' time is taken up with day-to-day activities—handling maintenance complaints, processing staff payroll, sending out notices of meetings, collecting maintenance fees, overseeing renovation projects, and so forth.

Still, out-of-the-ordinary situations can happen to any management company. Some of them, such as a broken pipe flooding a unit or a fire on the grounds, are situations that experienced managers are prepared for. But others—well, they can be something else.

For example, consider this from Phil Alampi of Condominium Management of New Jersey, a firm managing developments on either side of the Garden State Parkway from Northern New Jersey to Toms River. "We manage one co-op where the apartments are one-over-the-other and side-by-side, and the soundproofing isn't as good as it should be," he says. At this particular co-op, Alampi says the on-site manger got a call from a resident complaining that she was woken up every night by a rhythmic tapping on her wall from the next-door apartment. After she awoke, the tapping subsided. "Maybe it's a headboard," the apartment owner thought.


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