Adopted hamsters. Mysteriously empty pools. Secret bedroom habits of hi-rise neighbors. No, it's not next week's Desperate Housewives episode. It's more like Ripley's Believe It or Not, but all of these are true-life experiences of property managers, and they're just some examples of how managing a condominium community is not all about fixing leaky pipes and pushing papers. It can be an adventure—no matter how small the building or how civil and well mannered the shareholders and owners.
When asked for anecdotes, most property managers quip, "I could write a whole book on the subject!" And the crises never end. "Every community manager knows you just can't expect any day or week to go as planned," says Andrea Villanueva of Wentworth Property Management, who oversees the Winding Ways Homeowners Association in Jackson. "You can only hope that nothing too strange happens, and if it does, that it can be handled before it becomes a catastrophe."
Villanueva knows exactly how to handle a potential catastrophe—especially the strange and mysterious ones. She remembers one time when preparing the property's 230,000-gallon pool for its season opening was jeopardized.
"We spent weeks having the pool power washed and painted, the trim tile replaced, and underwater lights repaired and we had completed our five-year grounding and bonding," Villanueva explains. "The pool was clean and safe and looking great!"
The pool was filled and the chemicals were added, with three days to spare before the big season opening. "We returned to work the next day knowing there was nothing left to do with the pool," says Villanueva. "Wrong! The water—all 230,000 gallons plus chemicals—was gone!"