Apartment managers need to handle a lot on a daily basis – whether it be answering frequent maintenance calls, shutting down parties when they get out of hand, or just trying to keep a building full of residents happy. Daily Bruin reporter Denise Lin talked to apartment managers in Westwood to understand what it’s like to be in their shoes.
LIN: The phone in property manager Eduardo Garcia’s office starts ringing when I’m there, around 11 am. This is common for him; in the afternoon, he says, it’ll be ringing off the hook.
GARCIA: My name is Eduardo Garcia; I am the property manager of 433 Midvale.
LIN: Being an apartment manager is really demanding, but Garcia loves his job.
GARCIA: The best part of my job is getting to work where people live – I get to work at people’s homes, I get to see them everyday, you build a relationship with people and you become their friends.
LIN: Justin Blackman, apartment manager at Atrium Court, also enjoys being able to meet new people.
BLACKMAN: It’s super cool – I meet 100 to 150 new people every week. It’s super cool. The stories you hear and the people – A lot of the residents will just sit in here and just talk and there’s no other job where you can do that. I help a lot of kids tie their ties when they have interviews and all that. For a lot of people, this is their first experience away from home.
LIN: There are definitely challenges to the job too.
GARCIA: When we acquired this building, it was a mess. There were parties here with people in the courtyard, people in the common areas, it was insane.
LIN: Garcia has shaped his own management style and found what works best.
GARCIA: When I came in, I made sure we put our company culture on the building. What I’ve learned is that you cannot restrict people in their own homes to do things. Everyone, this is their home. I wouldn’t want someone to come into my house and tell me what I can and can’t do. But you can ask people to respect their neighbors. Go ahead, have your fun inside your apartment. I found that being lenient and allowing people have their fun within reason works 100 times better better than telling people no.
LIN: Blackman has the tough job of enforcing Atrium Court’s policy of no parties and quiet time after 10 pm. He thinks that having residents understand the context of his decisions is key.
BLACKMAN: Even if you’re angry at me or you’re not happy with my decision, there are probably 30 people who will come up to me and say thank you for doing that.
LIN: Garcia and Blackman are on duty 24/7 in order to help their residents.
BLACKMAN: You get used to the pager in the middle of the night, and it wakes you up. At first, I didn’t know if I was going to wake up from it, if I was going to sleep through it, but it’s pretty loud. But it’s okay. And my wife is awesome and puts up with it as well. She has the hardest job, I always tell people, because she has to wake up too when the pager goes off, and it’s not her job.
LIN: Policy enforcement aside, Blackman finds that his relationship with staff and residents make his job fulfilling.
BLACKMAN: If you get along with the people you work with, no matter the job title you have or how much money you make, if you love the people you work with, that trumps everything else, because it makes you want to come to work, and it makes you want them to succeed as much as you, and it just makes a fun environment. And I, at least in my perspective, believe that we have that here.
GARCIA: This is a great neighborhood. I noticed that the culture at UCLA is a lot different from other cultures in different universities.
LIN: For many managers like Garcia, it’s difficult to see residents leave after building a relationship with them. Building rapport between new residents quarter after quarter can be difficult.
GARCIA: The most challenging part of my job is getting the apartments ready for the new people coming in, and having the turn, where you meet someone and they’re here for 365 days. And then they’re not here any more, they graduate, they go away. So that’s a pretty tough part too. You get to know everyone, first name, last name, you know their moms, you know their dads, you know what they do, their part time jobs, and they just go away. So that’s a pretty tough part.
LIN: A resident in Garcia’s building, Santa Monica College freshman communications major Devon Kimbrough discusses her experience in the apartment.
KIMBROUGH: I really like the area. Westwood, the village itself is only a 15 minute walk from here. And being right next to UCLA, going to the library all the time; it’s a 10 minute walk if I want to go anywhere.
LIN: Kimbrough was nervous moving in, but she has felt really comfortable living in the apartment.
KIMBROUGH: When I first moved in here, I mean, I’m a freshman, I’m 18, so when I came in I was kind of nervous for what I was getting myself into. In my apartment I had 4 girls including myself, so I was really nervous to get matched up with people I had never met before, but it ended up turning out to be really good in the end. Like Eduardo said, they match you up with people that fit your personality, so a lot of us have a lot in common and get along really well. We haven’t had any problems. And I mean the noise – yeah, it gets noisy on the weekends but during the weekdays when you’re getting your work done and everything like that, everyone is pretty respectable and quiet.
LIN: As both a manager and a resident in his building, Blackman finds himself enjoying Westwood, as any UCLA student would.
BLACKMAN: Like I said, I live here, so I experience this whole area. From Atrium at least, we’re two blocks from the village, so my wife and I can walk to dinner and the movies and Diddy Riese, everywhere, and it’s super cool.
LIN: Having to work with so many different people makes for the greatest challenges, but can also be the best part of the job.
BLACKMAN: There are residents that I still have not met in 6 months, because they don’t come by the office, they’re quiet, they keep to themselves, they get in a car and drive away. And that’s great, and we also have some residents that come in everyday and talk about life and I love those residents just as much. It’s a cool mix.
LIN: No matter the personality of their residents, managers like Blackman try to with work them to make them comfortable. This means getting woken up by the the pager in the middle of the night, having to work out roommate conflicts, and dealing with plumbing issues – but for these apartment managers, it’s worth the reward of creating a better place to live. For Daily Bruin Radio, this is Denise Lin.