As anyone who’s ever had their heat go out in the dead of winter can tell you, condo buildings don’t maintain themselves. It might take a village to raise a child, but it takes a knowledgeable, experienced team comprised of a qualified property manager, an experienced custodian or janitor and a competent board member to keep the lights on and the mortar sound. But when something needs to be fixed or goes wrong, who ya gonna call? Well, often the answer is, ‘it depends.’
A Matter of Degree
First it depends on whether the problem is an emergency or not. Residents are typically told that all life-threatening emergencies—such as fire, or a gas leak—should be reported to the fire department or local utilities immediately. Once that has been done, the property manager or other person in charge can be notified.
If the issue at hand is not a dire emergency, who gets notified depends on the building and the way that the property management company manages it. For example, Joanna Dziok, owner of Integral Residential LLC, is an independent Chicago property manager specializing in small to mid-size condo buildings, ranging from six to 65 units. Because of their smaller sizes, most of the buildings she manages do not maintain on-site personnel. Instead, she has a janitor who stops by a few times a week to clean the building and do small repairs when necessary.
Even though Dziok isn’t an on-site property manager, the residents know they can reach her by phone or email, no matter what the problem. “Some buildings also have websites where they can put in a service request,” she says. “Either they can alert me to a problem or they can tell a board member who can then tell me.”
Rob Presbrey is a property supervisor with The Habitat Company in Chicago and the buildings he manages range from 200 units up to 900 units. “At each property, we have a full-time property manager and an on-site chief engineer who is in charge of the physical maintenance of the building,” he says. “If a resident awakens to suddenly find a leak under their kitchen sink, they are already aware to notify the management office. We would then dispatch a chief engineer, who would take care of the problem.”