Get Out— And Take Your Horse With You!
A Day in the Life...
Sometimes you learn the most interesting tidbits of information about your residents by accident. Here’s a story submitted by a Dallas property manager who investigated after hearing some surprising news from a prospect who stopped by the office one afternoon.
Get Out—And Take Your Horse With You!
Years ago, I managed a community that featured a large, open greenbelt in the back. One of my favorite residents lived near this wonderful area. He was a really nice man who’d gone through a tough divorce. It was not uncommon for him to pop into the office whenever he checked his mail. We had come to know he and his precious, young daughter, who would come to stay with him every other week.
The Sunday Surprise
My staff and I were thrilled when our occupancy reached 100-percent and we were able to begin closing the leasing office on weekends.
One Sunday afternoon, I was running some errands and decided to make a quick stop at my office. I went in and locked the door behind me. Shortly afterward, I heard someone knocking loudly. There was no way I could ignore it. So, although we were technically closed, I headed toward the door. Through the window I could see a couple with two young children. I let them in and explained that our community was fully occupied and we were currently on a waiting list.
Clearly disappointed, the mother asked me if we managed any other properties that offered pony rides.
Pony rides? What? I thought, wondering what the woman might be referring to. She must have seen my puzzled expression because before I could ask her what she meant, she nodded over to her husband to explain.
“Yes,” the man said. “We liked the looks of this community so we drove around the entire property. Our kids just about went bananas when they saw the man offering horseback rides around your greenbelt.”
The children nodded excitedly in unison. “I love ponies!” exclaimed the little girl. “I’m going to get a pony some day!”
Ride ‘em Cowgirl!
I hurriedly said goodbye to the family and jumped in my car to find out what was going on at the back of our property. Sure enough, when I arrived at the greenbelt, there was our favorite resident pulling around a small horse. Perched proudly in its saddle, clad in cowgirl finery, was his daughter, grinning from ear to ear. I was stunned to see that there was also a line of several residents with their young children, waiting to take their turns.
I wasn’t popular with the kids (or their parents) that day, but of course I had to shut the operation down. I found out this wasn’t the first time this resident had arranged pony rides on our greenbelt—apparently it had become a regular occurrence since the leasing office had started closing on weekends.
Although I was angry, I calmly explained to everyone about the management company’s liability and expressed concern over someone getting hurt. To my surprise, my former favorite resident argued with me about it.
“I’m just trying to make my daughter happy and bring some joy to some of her friends. I always clean up before I take the pony back,” he remarked. “This isn’t hurting anyone! Can’t you just let us have a little fun here?”
Before I knew it, the small crowd was all glaring at me, and though I felt like a real heel about breaking up their little pony party, it was my job to enforce the rules.
As far as the former favorite resident, we ended up having to evict him for violating his lease.
I guess it just goes to show you—when the manager’s away, the residents will play! Or, in this case they’ll definitely “horse around!”
From the book "I Have a Complex, but I'm Managing It!" Stories from property managers compiled by Monica E. Simmons.
Monica E. Simmons, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for JDC Enterprises, LLC, has worked in the multi-family industry in several different capacities since 1987. She is a published author whose books include; I Have A Complex, But I’m Managing It!, It Happened in The Hill Country and 30-Love.
Contact her at: Monica@TheVendorGuide.com