A Day In The Life . . .
In my book, I Have A Complex, But I’m Managing It!, Chapter 10 is entitled Taking Care of Business. Here’s one of those stories submitted by a resourceful manager in Houston who shut down a disruptive and unauthorized business at her community.
A 500+ unit property I once managed featured three swimming pools as well as a huge playground. In addition to these amenities, we were one of the few communities in the area that offered three-bedroom floorplans.
Our three-bedroom units were located at the back of the property, away from the hustle and bustle of the leasing office and main pool.
Shortly after we’d leased one of the large apartments, I began to suspect our new resident, we’ll call her Shirley, was operating a daycare from her apartment. It was obvious something was going on based on the steady stream of complaints we started receiving from her neighbors.
When I confronted Shirley about reports of noise and an ongoing stream of people dropping off and picking up children throughout the day, she denied any wrongdoing. “I just watch my sister’s two kids,” she told me rather defensively. “That’s not breaking any laws or anything!”
We discussed the provisions of her lease and I pointed out that if she were operating a daycare, she was in violation of her lease. Shirley assured me that was not the case.
A few days went by, and things seem to quiet down a bit. Relieved, I focused on other things, but kept my eyes and ears open anytime I was around Shirley’s building.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before things amped up again with more unhappy notifications from her neighbors. One such call prompted me to jump on the golf cart and zip over to what we referred to as ‘the family pool’— a shallow pool popular with residents that had young children. It was here I caught Shirley ‘kid-handed’!
Bye, Bye Babies
That warm afternoon I learned that one of Shirley’s scheduled summer activities for her daycare charges was swimming lessons—in our family pool!
I shook my head in disbelief as I watched a young instructor coach six little kids, each equipped with a life vest and a kickboard. Shirley sat observing on a nearby bench cooing to a baby on her lap, by her side was a toddler in an umbrella stroller.
Slowly I walked over to talk with Shirley, noticing how she frowned when she saw me. I waited in silence, thinking she’d offer up an explanation or a denial about what was going on, but she said nothing.
Finally, I said, “I can see you have your hands full, but we need to talk.”
Shirley nodded and blew out a sigh. “I know what this might look like, but—”
She stopped and stared at the ground.
Noticing all eyes were upon us, I decided to cut her some slack. Motioning toward the pool, I said, “Please wind this up and meet me in my office at six. That should give you time to make other arrangements for all these children, alright?”
Again, she nodded though her expression was grim. “My last parent picks up at six so it might be a little after that,” she muttered.
“I’ll be waiting,” I told her patiently. There was much more I wanted to say but it would keep until then. As I drove back to the leasing office, I marveled at how some residents will break the rules, thinking they’ll get away with it—and I’m sure they often do.
Shirley wasn’t happy that I shut down her daycare business, but had to comply with the rules. At least, as far as I know she did anyway. Who really knows what goes on behind those apartment doors?