Building work often not only means noise and dust for the tenants, but also uncertainty and worry. The best thing here can be to talk openly about it, both before and during the work. Sylvia Reinefeld makes sure on-site that our construction work goes as smoothly as possible. She is the project manager for tenant support at Deutsche Wohnen and sees things from both perspectives – that of the tenants and that of the site manager – so she is in a good position to liaise between the two.
We can talk about it
Ms Reinefeld, what is the main function of a project manager for tenant support?
Tenant support is the central liaison office between tenants, the company and the site manager for construction and modernisation work. We hear everything, see everything and talk to everyone, and always from the tenant’s point of view, too. But actually my role is something special in the German property industry in this form.
Why is that?
Partly because I am a permanent employee and work for the company itself. That means I know the company, am in close contact with the property managers and with those responsible for the building work. The other thing is that I have the professional construction knowledge, which is very much in the interests of our tenants. And I have a much wider range of competences than is normally the case. Which means I can also take decisions when it comes to protecting the tenants’ interests during building work. Of course, I do that in agreement with the other people involved.
Last year your job included supporting tenants during the modernisation work in the Borussiastraße in Berlin-Tempelhof, where there are around 570 apartments?
Yes, and that was a project where unfortunately there had been communication difficulties between the tenants and an external service provider at the beginning, so the tenants were pretty sceptical about the whole process. So we tore up the plans, so to speak, and started all over again, explaining what we wanted to do, why, and how. And it worked, because today the great majority of tenants is behind the refurbishment, the tone quickly returned to normal, and that is good for everyone involved.
Do you have a standardised approach to your work? I imagine every modernisation project is different.
That’s true, but the ways and means are still always similar. We have developed a detailed quality management procedure, with over 30 templates and process descriptions, and made it available in digital form. That means all the tenant support staff know what has to be done, and which tools are available. Then what’s needed are empathy and the ability to approach other people with an open mind.