My First Day in Property Management…
Every life journey, career journey, etc. has a beginning; a commencement of that new path. My first day working in Washington, DC as the new maintenance coordinator at a property management office was one heck of a new start. My task on my first day was to go with our leasing agent to a particularly troublesome property in a bad neighborhood of DC and to do inspections of each of the four units in the building. I was told that the area was a little rough so usually we didn’t go over there alone. That should have been my first clue as to how this day was going to go.
We climbed into my co-workers bright yellow Mini-Cooper and were off on our adventure. We arrived at the property and I quickly noticed that there were people everywhere lounging on porches and walking up and down the street. The neighborhood was hopping with an obvious tension as we were not recognized and neither was our bright yellow car which stands out like a beacon wherever you go.
We approached the building and entered, even though I had already said a silent prayer to myself in hopes that the keys to the front door were not going to work and we could just leave. We proceeded into the building and checked the first unit, a vacant unit on the lower level. The only issue is that the unit was not exactly vacant, someone had run a hose from the apartment across the hall into this unit and was growing marijuana in the bathroom. A full on grow set up was happening with lights, watering system and timers.There was a card table set up in the front area which was technically the living room where there was a pile of weeds and stems from breaking down the marijuana to sell. Great. Now, we have to go next door to the actual drug dealers apartment and pretend like we didn’t just notice what they are up to across the hall.
My co-worker didn’t seem all that concerned with our discovery and encouraged me to knock on the second unit door. I did so and after a few moments a large man opened the door and after we explained why we were there he told me that he didn’t live there, but he and his friend were watching some kids for another friend while she was out. They were watching a violent movie on TV with the volume turned up passed what I would consider a normal level for even a senior citizen with a hearing issue and both were obviously high to top it off. The large man invited us in. You know that gut feeling you get when you are doing something and you know its a bad idea? That feeling is the one I had when I walked into this apartment, especially as I knew that these guys were probably involved with running some sort of drug operation from the neighboring unit. My co-worker again wasn’t overly concerned and she walked right in. The cloud of smoke hit us first, obviously these tenants were not ashamed to be using their own product, nor did they seem to remember the no smoking clause in their lease. The place was filthy. There were cats and cat litter boxes everywhere and you had to follow the narrow path through the stuff piled all over to move throughout the unit. I opened the door to the back bedroom and found three little girls all in diapers watching TV on a bed with no sheets and covered in filth. It turned my stomach and made me want to cry. My gut instinct was to get them out of the house. They huddled in the corner and the oldest girl asked me if I was there to be the new caseworker. I told them no and quietly left.
We still had two more units to inspect. Thankfully unit #3 was a mess but we didn’t encounter any illegal or bizarre activity. The last unit was in good shape as well except for the fact that there was a small dog crate in the living room with two whimpering dogs in it. The dogs much too big to be in a crate that small. Again, my heart was squeezing. The dogs were covered in their own feces and their fur was actually peeling away in places. My co-worker, also a dog lover, decided that we had to do something. We took the dogs out for a walk (definitely over stepping our purpose and probably what we were legally allowed to be doing, but at some point your conscious takes over) and we cleaned out the crate and the poop that was all over the floor in and around the crate. As we left the building we encountered a group of angry people who thought we were actually planning on stealing the tenants pets afer seeing us walking them. We explained that we were just trying to help out and walk them for her as a favor since we were there and they seemed to need to go out (very badly, I doubt they had been out of that crate for days). For whatever reason they believed us and the group dissipated without causing us any bodily harm. Thank goodness.
As we drove away from this property, I was beginning to question whether this particular job was really for me. As we pulled out onto Minnesota Ave in NE we had the sunroof open on the Mini Cooper. We stopped at a red light and noticed a man approaching and obviously looking at us, he jumped at the top of the car and attempted to climb into the car via the sunroof. My co-worker pulled the sunroof closed locking it as we realized what he was attempting to do. He then went to the Verizon van next to us and attempted to crawl into the driver side open window. He was punched in the face promptly by the driver and ran away losing his pants in the middle of the street.
We drove back to the office and on the way my co-worker begged me not to quit, telling me that most days are not that bizarre. I wish I could say that this was true.
Property Management has been a rewarding experience for me on many levels, one of which is that no day is ever the same, there is constant variety. But, there are sure the days that make me shake my head wondering if I am completely nuts for doing this at all.
By Jayna Concepcion
Real Property Management Serving Maryland and DC
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