Make My Day Real-Life Stories From Property Managers

Managing a portfolio of co-ops and condos can be an adventure, no matter how small the buildings or how civil and well-mannered the shareholders and owners. Problems inevitably arise, and when they do, the managing agent can often wind up feeling a little like Dirty Harry. They solve the problems nobody else wants—or is qualified—to handle, and they must often do so in innovative ways. And while most days their adventures involve disputes about noise and heating temperatures and cooking smells rather than chasing serial killers across co-op rooftops…it is New York, so you never know. As one manager remarked when told of this piece’s focus, “There’s just so much crap that goes on.”

To expand a little upon that comment, we asked some veteran property managers in Gotham to share their most memorable adventures. The stories, ahem, made our day.

Shouts & Murmurs

While Steven Birbach, chairman of Carlton Management in Glenwood Landing, has taken a number of unusual calls, he remembers the most unusual noise-related complaint. In one apartment were newlyweds, who worked odd hours. In the unit directly below was a single woman whose powers of hearing were positively Kryptonian.

The wife would come home from a late shift at two in the morning. She’d wake up her husband, and the two of them would enthusiastically engage in an activity young newlywed couples are known to enjoy.

No sooner did the festivities commence then the woman downstairs “would go ballistic,” Birbach says. “She’d take a broom and bang on the ceiling. More than once she actually went upstairs, knocked on the door, and told them to 'get a room.'” She also saw fit to send Birbach a two-page e-mail describing the issue in excruciating detail.

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