I went to my first management company AGM in four years last week.
Not that it's been that long since I bothered, but because the incumbent directors finally stepped down and allowed us to convene one.
We have been hounding them for years to call an AGM to discuss the building and its condition, but they have refused, something for which I believe they could be brought to task on under company law. But they've skated because they've submitted proper accounts over the years.
But certain developments in the Irish property market mean that our (now ex-)directors are divesting themselves of some of the more costly (to them) assets in their portfolios, including the block that they built and neglected for so long. And by stepping down and turning over control to the apartment owners, they gave us the chance to run things ourselves.
Which is where the despair sets in.
Arguably, the main purpose of the meeting was to agree the financial reports and elect new directors (something I'm not interested in being), however it was also an opportunity for certain individuals to score points against the property management company about their charges and how much things cost. All the time, nag, nag, nag...
Look, I get it; you don't want to pay money for the maintenance of the block. So what'll we use instead?
Magic beans maybe?
For those of you unfamiliar with Ireland, let me explain - we live in a rip-off economy. Everyone charges as much as he can for the product or service he sells, mostly because the government makes sure to get their rather exorbitant cut, and so he has to in order to make any kind of living, but sometimes due to greed. We're one of the most expensive places in Europe to live.
And it's a reality of this apartment block that it's in a high-traffic location, with people moving in and out all the time, so it's high-maintenance as well.
We have a daytime caretaker who also acts as security; he comes in at weekends and does a sweep-up on his own time for no extra money. We also have a cleaning service that comes in twice a week to do heavy cleaning - Bill does it the rest of the time.
We have a night security patrol who come through the place when Bill is off. With three entrances to the building from the street, we can't afford to employ concierge staff (not that that's common here anyway) although I've always thought that would be a good idea.
But despite the services we are getting, and the fact that the committee always tries to negotiate the best price, there's always the same voices sniping about the price of things: the accountant who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing; the teacher for whom her apartment is merely a weekday abode and who 'keeps a house in the country'; the absentee landlord who 'hates everything about the place and the filthy people' yet doesn't want to sell because prices might pick up.
They want the place repainted every year, new carpets, better lifts, steam cleaning, gold-plated toilets for all I know, but seem to expect someone to wave a magic wand...
The sooner I move out, the better...