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“Anyone have good experiences with building management companies?”

by Prince Of Petworth May 9, 2017 at 1:15 pm 46 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Jim Havard

“Dear PoPville,

Our building is currently considering new management. We have a 4 story, 12 unit building in Columbia Heights. Anyone have good experiences with building management companies?

Our currently company is not responsive nor are they organized. I’d love any recommendations that anyone has.”

Ed. Note: You can see some recs from 2013 here.

  • Rich

    Your mileage may vary regardless of who you choose. The property manager assigned to your building by the company will make or break an experience. Also, your expectations and your ability to negotiate a contract will influence the cost and experience.

  • FridayGirl

    So curious about the responses to this….

  • northeazy

    I’ve had Thos D. Walsh for years. Small outfit and mostly manage small buildings, like yours, and they are very friendly and responsive. Any issues from pests, to fixing smoke alarms, to general bldg beautification, they have been great.

  • JB

    I lived in a Bernstein-managed building for a few years and was very pleased with management’s responsiveness to a number of service calls, as well as general upkeep of the property.

    • N

      I think their responsiveness really varies by building. Are you in a building that matters, or not? That will determine your level of service.

    • textdoc

      Emmaleigh504 and others have had good things to say about Bernstein (not to be confused with Tilton Bernstein):
      They seem mainly to manage rental apartment buildings; not sure if they manage condo buildings too.

  • mike

    Premium Property Management
    They manage properties exclusively in the Columbia Heights area

  • Hookdntx

    Small 10 unit building Condo Board Pres; We use Crescent Property Management and ate happy with them; they are also reasonably priced.

    • Jay

      My small building uses Crescent as well. Nobody there seems thrilled with them and their responsiveness/communication leaves a lot to be desired. I think this comes down to the individual manager that we’re working with more than the management company. We know we could do worse, but it seems like this should be better.

  • DC

    I have the opposite — companies NOT to use:

    – Fitzgerald: they were extremely slow to respond to pest complaints in my old building.

    – William C Smith: while I know people who have had better experiences in other buildings, our condo’s PM (Dupont Circle neighborhood) is the worst. We tripped our unit’s circuit breaker on a Friday evening and the company did not arrive to open the locked master utility room in the basement until Sunday morning, despite numerous calls to every “off hours” number I could find.

    • FridayGirl

      I’ve always wondered about WC Smith. I’ve heard very mixed things. This is good to know.

    • anonymouse_dianne

      We are managed by Tilton & Bernstein and would avoid them like the plague. Look them up on Yelp for over 20 negative one star ratings.

  • Sarah

    Mindel Management is great. http://www.mindelmgt.com/mindel/outside_home.asp Former condo board president here.

    • Ward One Resident

      We use Mindel Management too and we’ve always had good experiences with them.

  • Easyenough

    Ha HA Ha. No. – association president on third management company in seven years.

    They get bought, sell clients, spin themselves off in weird ways, change service and pricing models. It’s nuts. Being a property management company does not appear to me to be an easy business to be in or they wouldn’t do this stuff to themselves. I have a good relationship with our current one, but would never recommend it. Your property manager is more important than the company.

  • ruby7

    I recommend Mike Healy at http://www.kandmpropertymgt.com/

  • Some Board Member

    I’ve been on our board for about 2 years (40+ units in Columbia Heights). Our owners or board members have never really gotten along with a management company or any vendors for that matter. People are always complaining about high fees and low service. I’ve never heard of anyone ever complementing the work of the board or the management company or any vendor servicing the building.

    It seems like every company can be highly recommended or hated at the same time on any forum. This may mean mangers (who happen to work at firm A, B, or C) are creating the positive or negative experiences for boards. So when looking for a good company you might also narrow it down to a good manager at that good company that you eventually find.

    Additionally, it seems board members themselves can often determine whether a relationship with a management company (manager) seems good or bad. Some boards are filled with people who have never lived in a condo and never worked with a property manager or called a plumber while others may have people with a decade or more of experience sitting on boards, working with vendors, etc.. Some boards are very active and know the ins and out of their building, their bills, and their strategy for managing it all while other just want to pay an HOA fee and leave everything in the hands of the management company for better or worse. So you might also take into consideration the experience and motivation of the board when choosing a management company. Know the mentality of your board and the bldg. residents. Do they want someone to answer every time they pick up the phone with a question or complain, are they content with weekly/monthly updates, etc. Let your manager know your expectations.

    Good luck in your search.

  • AsAMother

    Not a property owner, but I lived in a small apartment building managed by Yarmouth. They seemed terribly disorganized, and they left things unrepaired for the entire time I lived there (the glass on the front door was broken, which was right next to the broken mailboxes), despite numerous calls and emails from the tenants to get them fixed.

    The building was old, so things broke down a lot. It would typically take several calls and emails before they would send someone out, but never gave any notice for when the contractor was coming. I once had a contractor enter my apartment while I was in the shower. I walked out of the bathroom naked, and he was there just in the other room! I complained numerous times about incidents like this, and Yarmouth’s response was always, “We rely on our contractors to contact our tenants, we are too busy to follow up.” Whereas their contractors would tell me, “Our client is Yarmouth, not you. We don’t need to call you for anything.”

    Because both Yarmouth and the contractor refused to follow up with me after a job was done, or even with each other, things like leaky pipes continued, and caused lots of damage to the unit, and building as a whole. I had a major leak in my bathroom, and called Yarmouth repeatedly. It got to the point where I couldn’t even close the bathroom door because the wooden floors were so severely warped. Yarmouth sent someone out to replace the floors in the bedroom, but they didn’t fix the pipe. Within weeks the floor boards were warped again. It was only this time that they fixed both the pipes and the floor.

    Some repairs would be done, but others wouldn’t. There were numerous incidents like this, and every time Yarmouth’s response was, “Well, we’re too busy to keep track of everything. We trust our contractors to make sure that things get done.” It drove me up the wall.

    Finally the building was sold to new owners, who initially opted to continue using Yarmouth. It took them two weeks. Two weeks of putting up with their constant run around before they yanked the contract from Yarmouth and decided to just manage the building themselves. Suddenly repairs were getting done with notice, on time, and correctly, meaning that they didn’t need to be done again, and again, and again. Who knew!

  • navyard

    Our HOA used John Theoharis for 2 phases. I thought they did a good job. In any case, calls and emails were returned and solutions were found or responses were forthcoming. Unfortunately, some ass-hat in my neighborhood was such a pain in the ass, that they would no longer work with him. Phase 1 of the development still works with Theoharis and he is competent and polite. Phase 2 has a useless management company and will hopefully go back to Theoharis.
    This was a 300 household community of townhouses and rental properties.

  • Luckycat

    I lived in a building managed by Calomiris and while we had a really good manager who lived on-site, he was limited in what he could do. The building has a lot of deferred maintenance and ultimately was bought and sold and is being turned into luxury apartments at appalling prices.

    Have had a good experience with Bernstein – good upkeep, responsive and they do what they can to keep up with maintenance. Very pleased.

  • DVD

    I would avoid Tilton Bernstein Management if your looking for good service. I would check out Tilton Bernstein Management on yelp if your looking for a laugh. https://www.yelp.com/biz/tilton-bernstein-management-washington

  • I hope it’s not out of line to suggest myself – I run a small building management business based in Columbia Heights. I’d be happy to meet with your building and discuss your needs. Feel free to email me (jon at coldants.com) or I think my name is linked to the website and there’s a contact form.

    • kevin

      Seconded on TNWLC

  • N

    Absolutely. The New Washington Land Company is fantastic. They manage my building and I have found that not only is our building manager very responsive, but anyone I reach who is on call. It’s really hard to find a good company with smart, thoughtful property managers. These guys fit the bill.


    • My building – 30 unit condominium – used New Washington Land Company about 10 years ago with less than great results. (Started out great – then in-house upheavals etc. then decline.) I do understand however that businesses change dramatically – so my advice is to ask for a list of current clients and talk to them directly.

      • Also, after at least 8 management companies in the past 30 years, we are currently using Tilton Bernstein and they seem to be generally adequate.

  • nightcheese

    Keener Management does a great job with my large building, but I don’t know if they take on buildings of OP’s size.

    Avoid Habitat Real Estate- I was a tenant in a house they managed and found it impossible to get them to provide any service unless the place was literally flooding.

  • Anonymous

    This is one of this questions that results in a lot of bitching. It’s easy for the prop mgmt company to mess up in one instance in a large building and one resident to not let it go. It’s impossible to make everyone happy.

    That said, serving on a board now, I would recommend CFM. They have saved our large building tens of thousands of dollars renegotiating every single contract we have. And they have also cleaned up the mess left behind by a previous mgmt. company that did not always pay our bills and at the same time check that contractors actually performed work that they billed us for.

    Unfortunately some residents don’t understand what is actually happening behind the scenes and I wouldn’t be shocked to see pros and cons for any company. So I would look to recommendations from people on a Board, not just a resident that has something to complain about.

    • anon for this

      Unfortunately, they dropped the ball on the recent boiler issues and told at least half a dozen residents that they were the only ones affected and decided that the building listserv is a management tool and censors posts about maintenance issues. Maybe the Board should be more transparent. When did the Board let owners know about the past managment company problems? When was the last time meeting minutes were posted? And CFM also runs their own maintenance repair service when they are also responsible for building repairs-and I have experienced them trying to get you to pay them for fixes that are the responsibility of building.

  • Lk

    we’ve found bcl management to be responsive https://www.bclmgt.com/property-management

  • above7-11

    I had a very positive experience with Premium Property Management in my old building in Columbia Heights!

  • William

    I live in an old apartment building in Ward 4 consisting of 69 apartments. The management company is Poretsky Building Group. They assigned a Property Manager, but tenants never see her and she doesn’t always return telephone calls or respond to emails. It takes them forever to respond to service complaints like water leaks, electrical problems, etc. There was a leak in the lobby ceiling coming from a unit above. Now there’s a hole in the lobby ceiling for over a month that haven’t been repaired. In my opinion, Senior Citizen apartments federally fund seem to have excellent maintenance service when things go wrong in an apartment. They usually come the next day or two to correct the problem. Sometimes they take of the problem in the same day.

  • danger dave

    Scout is awful! I would never recommend them to anyone. They aren’t bad with some things, but turn a blind eye to things that violate ethics, just because it seems easier for them.

  • Amanda

    Happy with citylights

    • ColumbiaHeights

      We are in a similarly sized building and are considering CityLights – do you find them to be generally responsive and proactive? They seem good from our initial meetings, maybe a touch expensive.

      We currently use Associa SCS based in Chantilly, and would not recommend them to someone with a building in the 10-20 unit range. We are obviously not a priority being such a small building located so far from their offices, and are already on our second/third property manager in 2 years.

  • Karen Lawson

    Nest DC is the best

  • Kathryn Kay

    Mindel Management

  • Deanna Darlington

    Angelo is a great property manager, he is responsive, proactive, and most importantly attentive to my properties. I have worked with him over 15 years and he manages a number of my properties and I rest assured that Angela takes excellent care of my properties due to a high level of commitment and a wealth of experience.

    • Angelo Passaretta

      Angelo is AP International Realty, LLC

  • O

    I would not recommend EJf. They manage my 40 unit building and are completely non-responsive to owner requests, though more responsive to the board. They also seem quite expensive. The upside (also a downside) is that they seem to pay well enough that their property manager stay for several years.

  • Fairmont

    My building switched to Scout Property Management based out of Brookland on 12th Street, NE a few years back and have been satisfied with them. We are also a small building in Columbia Heights with 11 units. We were with Delbe Management before and did not have a good experience.

  • LBJ

    Nest DC and Roost DC are both super responsive in my experience. It helps that you can talk to anyone on the team, versus just having one POC for an entire unit/building.


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