Monday, July 20, 2009

The syndic pt 2

Following my earlier post in June about the 'syndic' (the co-owners' building managers) we had our annual general meeting this morning. Among the items for discussion were the problem of cooking smells from some of the restaurants on the ground floor of our apartment building, and re-painting of the interior.

After a lot of heated discussion, it was decided that the offending restaurants should submit plans for bringing their ventilation systems up to norms, and only after approval by an independent expert, they would be given permission to proceed with the necessary work. This will involve constructing ventilation ducts up through the stairwell and installing extraction equipment and filters on the roof. Fortunately this can be largely hidden from view.

The alternative is that the co-owners would petition the court for their closure. I tried to dissuade the committee from this course of action but was out-voted, largely because it is a potential waste of money (we are on the verge of achieving a solution)and a court case could be a long drawn-out affair, with no certainty of winning. My view is that the co-owners are on weak ground as the restaurants have been in place in some cases for ten years or more, and only now have some residents decided to complain about the 'nuisance' of the smells.

Even if we won a claim for damages, which is in my view unlikely, all the restaurants are independent small family businesses, in some cases limited companies, and they would probably have to consider bankruptcy rather than pay damages. Bad enough that they are faced with a potentially large bill to cover the cost of installing correct ventilation, although it has to be admitted that they have been operating 'illegally' - though it appears with the knowledge of the management company and the local authority.

The syndic also voted for the interior decoration of the building, which is certainly needed after fiften years, and to replace the carpeting with tiles, for ease of maintenance. The outside painting was completed a year before I bought my apartment, so I was spared my contribution to that cost. Three estimates were provided, and a breakdown of each owner's contribution to the total cost, according to the number of shares they own in the building.

In an interesting display of people power, the management company's request for a three year renewal of its contract was turned down, in favour of an extension for just twelve months. The local estate agency who are the current managers have recently been taken over by a large national group and I think the idea is to see how we get on with the new management before commiting to a long-term contract.