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Sort of Like Melrose Place, But Without All the Sex or Good Looking People

September 16, 2009

5 years ago I purchased my first home: a 2 bedroom condominium in a recently “flipped” apartment building.  My then boyfriend (now husband) moved in with me (yes, we were living in sin at the time but I am an atheist so I get to do those sorts of things) and we set about making a life together.  The building had only 11 units and most of us were first-time home buyers.  We had our first Association meeting and everyone seemed so excited and engaged.  We had no idea how to run an Association but were trying to do everything ourselves.

At first it seemed promising.  We were having Association meetings every couple of months that first year, and discussed all sorts of projects we could do ourselves to make our building the best EVER: painting, flowers, rugs, artwork, barbecues.  Little by little, the jovial camaraderie began to ebb.  People didn’t show up for meetings or projects.  People started getting pissy in meetings.  Some people didn’t want to spend any money on improvements.  Then things started breaking: the plumbing, the water heater, the furnace, the roof, windows and doors.  People seemed to think we lived in an apartment building and didn’t get that when you owned property, YOU had to pay to get things fixed, not some landlord.  We had little money in reserve and had to keep approving special assessments.  It was revealed that the developer screwed all of us over with a false disclosure about the roof yet no one wanted to pursue him legally.

People started getting engaged and married, having babies and became less and less invested in the building.  Long gone were the painting parties: now it was all anyone could do to pick up a discarded soda can on the lawn.  People tried to sell their units but by this time the housing market was already in a downturn.  Residents became more and more frustrated with each other and the building.  Factions started forming (1 bedrooms versus 2 bedrooms).  Secret discussions were whispered in dimly lit common areas (no one bothered to change the lightbulbs).  Proxy votes were swapped.  Eye contact was avoided in the parking lot.  We bitched at each other over e-mail.  Accusations were made.  Personal squabbles were made public.  One batty owner (who also had been hitting on my husband) keeps telling all of us that someone should burn the building down.  No one wanted to sit on the Board of Directors yet everyone wanted to second-guess what the Board was deciding.

Those that could not sell wanted to move on with their lives and decided to rent out their units, despite the fact that this would put all of us in the position of never being able to sell (currently, out of 11 units, only 5 are owner-occupied, making it extremely unlikely that a potential buyer will be approved for a FHA loan).  Those of us that remain are left with the responsibility of tending to the building and to their renters.

We have an annual meeting coming up in a few weeks and each time I think about it I get knots in my stomach.  I am not looking forward to facing those who have selfishly abandoned our building and abdicated their responsibility to those of us who have chosen to abide by the circumstances of the economy and remain.  I would have loved to have sold my unit 2 years ago but no one was buying.  Not only did I not want to be a landlord, I thought it would be irresponsible to everyone if I did.

I have come to resent the people in my building (even those that have not left, for one reason or another).   I’m sure they don’t like me either.  I don’t understand the mentality of those that never pitched in, never did anything about the cigarette butts on the stoop, never cared about the leaking windows, never served on the Board.  I wonder what happened to our community and how did it break down.  It makes me sad.

I worked my ass off as a Board member for 4 years.  This last year I did not serve and it has been so peaceful.  My husband does not want me to serve again because he witnessed firsthand how stressful and time consuming it was for me.  I just know that no one will volunteer to serve in a couple of weeks and it will be difficult for me to keep my hand down.  After all, someone needs to do it and no one else seems to care.  But I cannot serve the people I resent.  I cannot make myself into some kind of self-styled Association martyr.  I cannot carry the load alone.  What does one do when one’s own ship is without a captain and the seamen don’t care that it is sinking?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 21, 2014 11:36 pm

    Reblogged this on shepherdgregory and commented:
    Yeh complicated dealin with people,similar issues myself,lotta hostility Out There~stick to your own standards all the more determinedly:they can motivate you to do so and something comes of it all.
    And I know what you mean with the martyr thing:don’t wanna be a doormat either.Greg x Edinburgh

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