A group of more than a dozen local apartment managers and owners teamed up this year to learn from each other and stay informed.
Since January, these individuals have met on a monthly basis to discuss challenges, successes and ideas and share insight into what they have been experiencing on their respective properties.
“The managers and owners are working together with the Sheriff’s Department as part of the Crime Free Multi Housing Program,” explained John McLelland, crime prevention specialist for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. “The purpose is to keep managers familiar with each other and informed about what goes on in the apartment industry here in Fallbrook. They discuss issues and learn from each other what works most effectively.”
McLelland, who facilitates the meetings, said the individuals involved want the best for their residential communities. At the group’s November 13 meeting, Imelda Enriquez, who has served as assistant manager of Turn Again Arms for the past ten years, said the sessions have been valuable for her and manager Rigo Estrada.
“The sharing of ideas has ended up creating a better environment for our tenants,” said Enriquez.
With 80 units in the complex, Enriquez said the population is over 200, making quality management a must. For her, the sharing of ideas has paid off.
“We have shared experiences on specific tenant issues <and> the eviction process and have forged a system on dealing with each other on referrals,” said Enriquez, explaining that “problem” tenants have a tendency to move from complex to complex in town.
Management at Turn Again Arms has worked hard to earn a Crime Free Multi Housing certification from the Sheriff’s Department.
Enriquez said two things played a big role in achieving that. The first, she said, is that McLelland has provided them with good advice.
“He has guided us through many situations and encourages us to utilize the Sheriff’s Department,” she said.
The second has been creating open lines of communications with the tenants. “If you keep your tenants happy and comfortable, they will communicate well with you,” said Enriquez. “We find that very important.”
The best part of the apartment managers’ group, McLelland said, is that participants have learned how to handle certain situations and nip them in the bud before the problem escalates.
Helen Poddoubnyi, owner/manager of Old Stage Apartments, said she finds the sessions “informative” and appreciates how much she has learned about the resources available to her.
“I have also learned what’s legal and what’s not and what services are available to help us,” said Poddoubnyi. “We also network a lot and I have met some wonderful people.”
And, Poddoubnyi said, getting a ‘heads up’ on a problem tenant who may be looking to move to another property is much appreciated.
“We can share our ‘tenant from hell’ stories and inform others to be aware, because a tenant like that can mean thousands of dollars in losses due to repairs that the owner ends up having to make,” she said.
Ginny Davenport, manager of Sierra Heights Apartments, said another benefit of being part of the group has been sharing information about vendors.
“It’s good to find out what has worked for others, including when it comes to vendors,” said Davenport.
A representative from Camp Pendleton’s base housing office is typically present at the meetings as well. For Amberwood Apartments manager Tami Dumsch, that has been invaluable.
“It has really helped me by having base housing here because a lot of my tenant profile is military,” said Dumsch. “They are very good with policies and procedures and have been very helpful in helping me understand military guidelines.”
McLelland said that at the November meeting topics ranged from the possibilities of deputies doing extra patrol to scenarios involving domestic violence.
“We also discussed the latest crime trends and what they can do about it,” said McLelland, explaining that the best thing a property manager can do is be consistent.
“You have to be firm and fair with all tenants in the enforcement of the rules,” he explained. “That’s one of the first things we teach at our landlord training session for the Crime Free Multi Housing Program.”
While not all of the managers involved in the group have achieved crime-free status for their respective properties, each has a desire to improve his or her individual residential community.
“The exchange of ideas and being able to develop a relationship with managers of other properties is great,” said Rafaela Sanabria, manager of Rosewood Apartments. “We are all working for the same cause and it’s good to unite.”
Poddoubnyi, who owns and manages her property, said, “It’s easy to get discouraged as an owner sometimes, because we all want to see the best in our complexes.”
McLelland said the only thing he thinks would make the meetings better would be to have more managers or owners get involved.
“I’d love to have 20 or more people at each meeting, whether they have only four units or over 80,” he said.
Those interested in being notified about upcoming monthly meeting dates and times can contact McLelland at (760) 451-3124.