“Ask Kari” is a monthly, Question & Answer feature from Kari Negri. Kari has two decades of property management experience, is a featured speaker at many industry trade shows, such as AAGLA’s annual trade show, and is the CEO of SKY Properties, Inc. in Los Angeles. This month’s guest post is written by Carmen Zelaya, SKY Properties’ Property Supervisor.
Avoiding CAT-astrophes in Property Management
There is no arguing that people adore their pets. Online polls show Americans spent nearly $60 billion on their pets this past year! Animal lovers are not waiting for home-ownership to adopt and rescue their furry friends for life.
Having a pet friendly building has many rewards, for starters, the financial benefits! A pet friendly apartment is more likely to rent faster, and you can require renter’s insurance and charge monthly pet rent. Pet rent can range between $50-100.00 per pet!
Along with those rewards however comes additional responsibility for your property managers, maintenance staff and vendors. In hindsight, the story I’m about to tell you is funny, however, it could have had a terrible outcome.
On a typically busy Wednesday afternoon in our property management office at approximately 11:00 a.m, I received a frantic call from my maintenance person that was in the middle of installing a brand new water heater in unit #11. I felt a chill when I heard him say that the cat in unit #11 had just dashed past him and headed for the hills-literally! My building is on a beautiful hilly street in Silver Lake, the cat apparently bolted toward the lush landscaping of the condos across the street.
So many thoughts went through my head, for one, how was I going to explain to my wonderful tenant (who sees her cat as a child) that Ms. Kitty had run out and was nowhere to be found? I couldn’t even imagine how devastated she would be. If it were my cat I’d be heart broken, and furious. As panicky thoughts inundated my brain, I grabbed my keys and drove the 15 minutes to the property. Upon arriving I found my maintenance person staring at some bushes across the street. He showed me pictures he had taken of her while she was hiding under a bush she had already abandoned. I remembered the cat had not been exposed to many people and that she had a complete set of sharp claws. There was no way she would go to him. I ran into my unit to get a heavy blanket and found myself parading up and down our street frantically calling out “Ms. Kitty!” Cars drove by and quizzically stared at me. It was 90 degrees out and I was in office clothes (including high heels) carrying a blanket and calling out for an unseen creature; I’m sure I looked like a basket case. This went on for over an hour. Worry for the animal, heartache for my tenant, and 1 precious hour spent worrying, knocking on doors, pacing, calling out for the cat, we finally gave up.
We walked back to the building, my maintenance man headed back to unit #11 to continue installing the water heater. I hesitated then nervously dialed my tenant to tell her the bad news. Right before I dialed the last digit my maintenance man came out, Ms. Kitty had somehow gotten around the back of the building and found her way back into the unit. I let out a tremendous sigh of relief and happiness and set down the phone.
The moral of this story is, if you are pet-friendly, make sure your tenants have a way of alerting your staff if a pet will be home ahead of time. Make sure your maintenance request forms have a box to check on whether an animal will be home alone. Train your staff to be alert and careful when entering and leaving a unit. As an animal lover and pet owner I can tell you these animals are an important part of our family. No one should have to go without their family member over a maintenance request.
We hope you’ve had a wonderful New Year! As always, stay in touch at www.GetSky.net
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