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It’s A Two-Way Street

Rank and file owners also have to do the right thing for the building in the coming year.  Here are a few suggestions of resolutions for them to make.

1. I will not assume that all board members are bad. The rule in this country, including co-ops and condos, is innocent till proven guilty.  No matter that rumors are rampant of directors getting special privileges the way politicians push through earmarks, unless you can prove it – admittedly hard to do – give them the benefit of the doubt.  Or if you’re really serious, run for election so you can get access to the information that may document your case.

2. I will not complain unless I’m willing to act.  It’s easy being an armchair apartment owner and blaming the power brokers for everything you think is wrong in the building – the lobby is ugly, the windows don’t open, the maintenance increase is too high. But just maybe they’re right and there’s a reason for what board members are doing. 

3. I will be nice to my neighbors.   Yes, this may be counterintuitive given that nasty is in – indeed downright profitable.  Just look at those housewives of New York or New Jersey or wherever, who are having cat fights and raking it in.  But they don’t live next to each other and you do.  So it’s a matter of self preservation because whatever you do to annoy the person above or below, they can do you one better.

4. I will not use staff to do my dirty work.  Whether it’s cleaning up after your Pomerian that left a puddle in the elevator or running interference with the guy downstairs who blares, the job is yours, not theirs.

5. I will not use the excuse, “I don’t know anyone.”  This is the standard answer owners give when they don’t want to get involved. I would help if I could, but I can’t because “I just don’t know anyone.” It’s a cop out. Even in New York where no one knows hardly anyone else, everyone know someone, and together the power of ones can make a difference

6. I will obey the rules of dog etiquette even though I’m not a dog.  Everyone knows the real problem is not pets, but their people, the only ones who can read the rules to begin with.  This year Mr. X has demanded that long-haired dogs be required to use the service elevators because they are more likely to carry pathogens or make a mess, thereby creating potential class warfare over disparate treatment of dogs. Except our building has always required all dogs to use the service elevators, not that anyone ever does. Here’s hoping this year may be different.

7. I will not send hate mail.  It can cost you friends and make you enemies, and most of all, won’t get you what you want.  Experience has taught that killing with kindness (even if you don’t mean it) is much more effective because it throws people off guard, leaving them little choice but to respond in kind. So whether your complaint is with the board or a fellow owner, a civil communiqué, signed and dated, so they know it’s from a real person, not a plant, is the way to go – at least to start.

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