Episode 4
February 1, 2023
Patrick Fenstermaker, Director of Property Management - JG Real Estate, LLC

Pat Fenstermaker walks into hell... and it's wet?


In this episode, buildings flood, cats get potty trained like toddlers, and AI writes eviction letters... yet the devil only shows up once. Pat also has an angelic moment when he finds some abandoned kittens.

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Host -  Welcome back to the Property Management Mentor, powered by Let Hub. I’m your host, cayenne. We taught Khan’s Oddities and stories in the PM space, and the kits are still there in the closet. We’re asking Patrick Fence to Maker PM questions. He’s a director of property management with JG Real Estate and has been in the business for 15 years. Let’s get into it. 

Guest -  Yeah. Yeah. 

Host -  We have a situation that another PM is facing. How would you handle it? Our anonymous PM is asking a resident’s toilet. Keeps getting major clogs on the third floor. Maintenance reported that they found kitty litter around the toilet. I assumed they were flushing kitty litter down the toilet, but this is great. Last night I found them on TikTok. They had their kitty litter box on the toilet with a hole cut in the center because they’re training their cat to go to the wash. On the human toilet . That’s fine. I know. Have you ever experienced something like this? What would you do in this situation? How would you handle this?

Guest -  So, you’re not gonna believe this, but I have experienced something very similar, a property, God, years ago, the resident who lived there similar, she kept having clogged toilets, kept having clogged toilets. Eventually the drain cleaner who was there said, oh, by the way, you know, she, her cat litter box is right there next to her toilet. My suspicion is that she. Scooping the cat poop the box and flushing it down the toilet along with the litter. So they weren’t making TikTok videos trying to train their cat, but we did suspect that she was flushing, you know, cat poop and litter. Make the tenant aware of what you found and let them know that nothing other than toilet paper and human ways can go down a toilet. That’s, that’s a good one. I gotta, I gotta tell that one to my team. Hopefully the cat’s polite and learns how to flesh too. 

Host -  Let’s talk about some people who aren’t polite though, and those are scammers. So we had a scam story written into us and basically there’s a property manager, she’s checking out some social media pages for a person who’s moving in and is like, they seem good. They seem. Later they find them swiping on Tinder. And the vibes aren’t matching. It’s a different energy. So she takes one of the photos from his profile and reverse searches it on Google and finds his social media under another name. Lots of guns, lots of drugs, lots of stuff that. Make her uncomfortable.

Guest -  What would you do? We’re, I’m in Philadelphia. You need, and actually just pass the new law related to it. You need justification. Why you are not gonna approve somebody if, even if the tenant, even if you find this other information about them with drugs and guns, like that’s not. A valid reason to turn somebody down for a unit. So unless you can deny someone based on the criteria that by law you’re required to set, then unfortunately there’s not much you can do. 

Host -  Funny, you can swipe right or left on Tinder based on your criteria, but you can’t do that in property management. . Oh yeah. So talking tech and property management. What have you used that you.

Guest - Yeah, so when I started in this industry back in 2008 to track maintenance requests, we used Google Spreadsheet. Our company primarily uses AppFolio to track maintenance requests, and that keeps a log and action list of every time you do anything with the work order, every email you send to the tenant, every email you send to the landlord. I’m also curious like what, how AI is gonna play into this, into the future. I’m wondering like if there’s a way to build some kind of an AI system based on like the description of the work order and like which actions it takes from. There I was messing around with, chat g p t the other day and I asked it to write. I’m just curious. I asked it to write an eviction letter to attend, just cause I wanted to see what it would say. I’m like, it wasn’t, it wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty solid. So, yeah, I don’t know. That’s where I think it’s, it may be going eventually. Yeah. The future of stuff in this industry is really exciting.

Host -  We don’t know where it’s gonna go and helping. Email management like that is a huge challenge to overcome. 

Guest -  Also, key management is a big one. I know I’ve worked at, you know, other properties in the past where you might have, you know, a hundred units in a single building. That’s generally easier to maintain keys. But the company I’m not now, we manage 1800 units spread between apartment buildings and single family homes all throughout Philadelphia. You know, in the past we had. Google spreadsheet to keep track of all that. We did switch to a system called Log It Out, which is basically a key tracker where every key has a bar-code tag on it where you have to scan and log in and out the tag each time you take it. But even that’s not perfect because it, there’s human error involved. I would love like some sort of like GPS tracking, R F I D, some kind of thing to go with the keys, which I know exists, but it’s incredibly expensive. Off the top of my head, that’s one of the large challenges. That’s a super good point.

Host -  You never know what weird place a key is gonna end up in, or whose hands they will. What’s a weird situation you’ve had to manage as a property manager? 

Guest -  There’s a few of it. I’ll tell, I’ll tell a story. Our, our property managers are on call from maintenance related emergencies as well. So being as a part of the team, I’m on call sometimes, had a property who, where in the middle of the night. It was probably like one o’clock in the morning. The supply line to the toilet had burst, so I’m already kind of on edge, and then a couple days later, I get another emergency call. Very similar in the middle of the night, tenant in the lower level unit is calling because there’s water coming into theirs from the apartment upstairs. Can’t get ahold of them. So I’m just like, whatever I’m gonna go down and see what’s going on. And I arrive and I could see water, you know, it wasn’t a lot of water, but a decent amount of water coming into this. The 10 below ceiling. I go upstairs and I’m knocking on the door and I can hear that there’s people, I can hear them like talking and like laughing and I’m, what is going on in there? So eventually I just, I was so mad. I just , I just kind of like cracked the door open a little bit. And the, there was a guy standing on the other side of the door and the only way I can describe it is he had his face painted like the devil. He had like red face paint on with like black. Like lining around his eyes and mouth. This I just like, kinda like pushed the door past him and I could hear like the toilet running and I just went right to the bathroom and shuffled water to their toilet, which had overflowed you had to push past the devil straight into hell . So, so I, so I turn around too and the guy over the devil face is still standing there looking at me and there’s another guy there who was like dressed like a magician is the only way I know to describe it. He has like a top hat. . And then there was some girl there wearing like a burlesque type outfit and I was like, I don’t know what you guys are doing, but you can’t use your toilet for the night. But yeah, that’s the one that comes to mind.

Host -  Oh my gosh. You know this reminds me of when I used to be a community assistant and I was crossing the parking lot. We had two massive buildings really far from each other, and I could hear a party from the further building, which is bad. You shouldn’t be able to hear a party from that far . So I go up there to deal with. The guys are coming out of the room and they’re trying to intimidate me. They’re like circling me. They’re trying to like scare me into not shutting down the party. Yeah, it’s like a 60 person party in a four person room. It really has to be shut down. . I stay on my ground and I start shutting down the party, but I notice a bunch of women in their like sixties coming out of the room, which is weird cuz we’re a college building right. Why are these women here? And they’re all wearing retro poofy dresses. Yeah. I’m so confused by this. But later the dean calls me into their office and they have the video of the event up on the screen, and he’s like, wait. This is my favorite part. And he pauses. And there’s a part where I grab open alcohol from someone who’s passing in the hall while this whole thing’s going down, and I just throw it in the trash and he’s like, whoa. But. Apparently those guys had been holding a prostitution ring and those older women were sex workers. Oh my God. Which is not what I expected sex workers to look like, but I guess you never know. 

Guest -  That’s awesome. Well, you, playing crime. Good job. 

Host -  Thank you. I feel exactly like Batman, except I’m not fabulously wealthy. Actually, I saw some PMs online talking about the cool stuff they found left in apartments. What have you found? 

Guest -  Yeah, so I was a security deposit inspection at a property in South Philly. The tenants who had lived there, unfortunately, Were probably drug addicts, and I knew that going in, I knew the house was gonna be absolutely destroyed. So I get to the house, I open up the front door and it looks how I expected, you know, smashed windows, furniture, trash, all over the house. So I’m working my way around doing my inspection. And in the closet, in the hallway upstairs, I hear the tiniest like, faints, kitten, meow is coming from the closet. Oh. So I open up the door. Lo and behold, there’s two baby kittens, maybe a week or two old in this closet. So I called the, Philadelphia, A S P C A. They got there super quick and within five, 10 minutes, the guy shows up. I show him where the kittens are and he’s like, all right, cool. I’m gonna, I’m gonna get the cats. And as soon as he’s about to pick up the cats, the bedroom, the bedroom door opens. and the lieutenant was still there, and she’s like, these are my kittens. You can’t take my kittens. So the guy, the officer was like, I’m sorry, she says they’re her cats. Like I can’t take them even though they’re, you know, in this living, in this sort of condition. I talked to the tenant and I’m like, Hey, you’re at least ended yesterday. You’re supposed to be outta here. Like, what’s going on? And she, you know, she’s, oh, I thought I could stay longer. Like every excuse you can imagine. I’ll be back in a couple hours. Like, just get as much stuff as you can out of, you know, outta here as possible. And when you’re done, leave the keys in the counter and I will, I’ll be back later today. I gotta be honest, right now it feels like she’s gonna bargain extra days of rent and exchange for kittens, So I go back later in the day and she’s still there, but she’s outside and she’s sitting. Sidewalk. And I said, are you all moved out? And she said, yep, my keys are inside. And I said, all right, thanks. The house is still trash. It looks exactly the same as it did earlier in the day, and the kittens are still there in the closet. Ah, so I found a shoebox, some old like towels and blankets that were in behind the house. I scooped the cats up. Drove like a grandma on the way back, like the most gentle way I could. Aw. So I got them back to the office, to my coworker and she found someone that took them. And as far as I know, the kittens are still are doing great.

Host -  That’s funny. Are they named Rent and Due? 

Guest -  I’m not sure what they ended up naming them, but yeah, it was a cool find and I’m glad I was able to rescue two Kittens. Wow. You really had to think on your feet and I bet you also did during Covid. How has Covid changed how you work? I didn’t like being, I didn’t, I felt like I was a lot.

Host -  I was, I felt like there was a lot going on the properties that I just like didn’t have a handle on or couldn’t be aware of cause I couldn’t physically be there. And then coming out of Covid, we do sort of a hybrid where, Everyone’s allowed a certain amount of time per week to work from home if they wish to, and I definitely like that.

Guest -  Did anything change with the tenants during this time? Delicately, like a lot of excuse making from tenants happened because of covid. I’m not even talking about like not being able to pay rent, just more so just like tenants will submit an answer quest, they want something fixed, but then, you know, they.

Host -  That we can only, you know, we can’t come certain times cause of covid concerns or oftentimes there’ll be some kind of necessary repair needed at the property and the tenant says, no, you can’t come because we were exposed to Covid. And it’s like, well your house is flooding. We gotta come fix it.

Host -   I’m sorry. Oh my God. This is gonna become a Noah situation and they don’t even care. Thank you for doing your best. 

Guest - Yeah. 

Host -  Thanks for answering our questions. We know PMs have to answer a lot of questions about properties if they want help with that, let Hub can step in. If you wanna nominate a mentor or tell your story, you can at podcast@lethub.com.Thanks so much. Talk to you soon.

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