The world of a property manager is never simple. Not every frantic tenant call can be resolved by drawing from previous life experiences. Sometimes, it takes one crazy crisis to blow away the notion that you’re prepared to handle anything. Unfortunately in my case, it took not one, but two incidents.
Of course, we’re talking about animals. Wild animals.
Most of the ones we deal with in the city are neither dangerous nor deadly, but they exact our horror nonetheless. Mostly because we don’t ever want to see them in our garage. Or shower. Or laundry basket.
I had a close encounter of the weird and wild right before I started at Buildium. At the time, I was working for a very large property management company based in the Boston area with properties all over the United States. This well-established corporation had trained me in numerous emergency protocols before bringing me aboard, and I was confident I could deal with most, if not every, situation.
Then, one day, a tenant rushed into my office and announced that a snake was slinking around our completely covered, temperature-controlled garage. It was no tiny, garden-variety garter snake, she said, but more along the lines of an anaconda. (Yes, I know there aren’t anacondas in Boston. But there aren’t rattlesnakes in Boston, either. Or are there?)
Surely, this nice lady must be being dramatic, I thought, as I marched over to our cavernous garage. Immediately, my eyes were drawn to a rope on the ground. I chuckled and sighed, more mildly annoyed than anything.
And then… it moved.
Piercing scream, 50-yard dash, office door slammed, Maintenance Guy speed-dialed.
Maintenance Guy (MG) and I went to the garage, but saw nothing remotely reptilian. I can still see MG’s eyes rolling, like a drill sergeant after first seeing his new, unschooled troops. Chastened, I retreated to my desk and dove back into the daily grind of lease-ups.
Ten minutes later, another tenant burst into the office. “SNAKE!” she yelled.
“Are you sure?” I sighed.
She was so sure, in fact, that she told me the number of the parking space the snake was lounging and hissing in. Calmly, I assured the woman that I would handle it and trekked back to the garage. Sure enough, my reptilian friend was alive and well… only now it had expanded its tenancy from spot #83 to spot #84.
I called MG. When he reached my desk, he was fuming and rattled off all the reasons I was two eggs shy of a dozen. Of course, when we walked back to the garage, the snake was nowhere. MG stormed and stomped around the lobby, fuming about how I should never call him again, under any circumstance.
Then he asked me if I heard a weird sound. Was someone else in the lobby?
We whipped around and gawked. The gigantic snake was writhing violently, trying to wrest itself free from the door we had just walked through.
Fast-forward an hour: Animal Control is removing the snake from where it had innocently tried to make its new home.
Shortly after that, I went to work for Buildium, and ended my career as amateur zookeeper. Until a few weeks ago… My phone began vibrating at 8:30 on a Saturday morning. What could be so urgent?
Over the course of a few text messages, my fellow Buildian, Arianna, revealed that a squirrel was trapped in her apartment window screen. Knowing that I’m one of Buildium’s property managers emeritus, I was the obvious choice to play Dr. Doolittle.
“How could a squirrel get trapped in a screen?” I thought.
Then Arianna sent me a picture of the squirrel’s audition for Mission Impossible 3.
Déjà vu: I knew what to do. I googled “Boston Animal Control” and sent their help line number to Arianna. Within the hour, the squirrel was frisky, free, and doing Saturday morning squirrel things like dropping off pelts at the dry cleaners’.
As for me, I went back to bed for some well-earned shut-eye.
How to Rescue and Remove Wild Animals as a Property Manager
Here are a few tips for dealing with wild animal invasions in your buildings:
Don’t remove any wild creature without first contacting Animal Control. I also saw or dealt with bats, raccoons, birds, and foxes during my property management career. Your state will have its own offices by city or town, most of which have a list online or by phone about which exotic pals need professional attention.
Don’t be afraid to call Animal Control. I don’t care how small the animal is. Let’s use that well-heeled Bostonian, the squirrel, as an example. Squirrels are tiny and adorable, but do yourself a favor and call Animal Control to handle squirrel removals. They’re not known to carry rabies, but they can bite when frightened, or you could end up injuring the animal as you try to rescue it.
Don’t panic. Trust me, when you get a call from a tenant telling you that there’s a bat in their chimney, they’ll be freaking out enough for the both of you. Remain calm. As a property manager, this is a big part of the job: Tenants look to you as the voice of reason during a crisis.
What experiences have you had with less-than-cheery wildlife throughout your property management career? We would love to hear your stories and whatever tips you have, so feel free to leave a comment below!Read more on Maintenance & Improvements