Thursday, October 26, 2006

Le Syndic

In France, each building has something called "le Syndic de Copropriete," which manages the property and collects fees from the co-op members. (If the word "syndic" brings Mafia connotations to mind, it's not a coincidence, at least not according to most homeowners I've met here.)

Last night we had our annual "reunion syndic," wherein the co-op members -- those who show up -- have a chance to vote on such thrilling issues as whether or not we should install individual water meters (vote delayed until more research is done) or if the front door code should be activated during the daytime so that men won't come in and pee in the entryway (again, vote delayed) .

One of the more disturbing items on last night's agenda was whether or not to modernize the concierge's bathroom, which at the moment is accessible only from outside in the courtyard, and consists of what is known as a Turkish toilet (hole in the ground) with the shower right above it. It seemed only natural to vote Yes on such an item (the concierge has two young children) but again, voting was delayed due to not having an estimate of the cost. Apparently this is an item which has been brought up over the last six years. I guess I won't hold my breath for getting an elevator put in.

Overall, the meeting wasn't very productive. Most of the major renovations -- like fixing the part of the roof that's leaking into our living room -- weren't passed, due to the voting power of one woman and her two brothers, who together own almost half the building. To give you an example of their power, they have blocked the vote to paint our hallways and stairs for over TWENTY YEARS. Clearly, these people are more interested in the quantity than the quality of property they own. (The books A Christmas Carol and Silas Marner come to mind. Except those had happy, cozy endings. Nothing cozy about Mme Claudinet -- name changed to protect me from lawsuits -- she could easily be cast as Mme DeFarge or, alternately, a collaborator during WWII. I know that sounds harsh, but dammit, I want my hall painted!)

We did manage to get 500 euros budgeted to buy plants for the courtyard, however. Gotta look on the bright side of things.

(note: that's Mme C in the drawing, from last year's meeting.) Posted by Picasa


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