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Paris Pain and Pleasure

Tonight is my annual “Assemblée Générale” of the “Copropriété” of my building. In other words, it’s the annual meeting of the home owners association that manages the property. In 10 years of ownership, only one has been missed. Not a bad record.

The meetings are always a mixture of both pain and pleasure.

It’s interesting to get to know your neighbors. Even though you live under the same roof, there’s rarely more exchange between you than a simple “Bonjour Madame,” “Bonjour Monsieur,” until that fateful day once a year when important decisions must be made. The meetings can seem to last forever (many hours) and the owners can often discuss ‘around’ a topic endlessly coming to no real conclusion or end up in verbal arguments that get shelved until next year.

The structure of the meeting can be quite formal, depending on who’s running it. In our case, the “Syndic” (manager) is a volunteer who lives in the building. He’s been the manager for many, many years — a thankless job he’s been willing to take on. For this reason, our meetings are generally pretty congenial. Tonight it will take place at the café La Pierre du Marais, upstairs in the same spot where “Parler Paris Après Midi” was held yesterday afternoon. (See the report on yesterday’s meeting by clicking here: )

Other building owners hire professional agencies costing the owners more in dues, naturally, and the service may not necessarily be better. In fact, there’s no real definitive answer to which method results in better management — it all depends on the individuals responsible for the work, as with anything.

The average cost of management and maintenance in Paris is about 25€ per square meter of your property per year. Yet, in our building, the fees are less — mine last year were less than 20€ per square meter. The monthly maintenance costs of my daughter’s apartment in New York is ten times that (!), although th
ose fees do include the property taxes and mortgage interest, accounting for 69% of the total cost. But then again, property taxes here in Paris are so low, they’re hardly worth considering. Last year they amounted to about 15€ per square meter.

Tonight’s meeting is particularly important for me as I’ve requested several items to be addressed and added to the agenda. It was done quite formally, with a registered letter written by my Notaire to the Syndic. It all has to do with the studio apartment with a terrace that is currently under renovation, once having been a “viager.” (The story can be read in full at )

I am asking that the copropriété confirm certain modifications to ownership of various parts of the apartment. First, that the terrace does in fact belong to the apartment and not to the copropriété as it says in my deed, but was voted on years ago. Secondly, that I am able to purchase one small part of the “combles” (attic) in which to install the “ballon de l’eau chaude” (hot water tank) — over which there is confusion as to who owns what (this in itself is a “grande histoire” [big story]!).

These questions could turn into a big debate, as there is much ado over the various aspects of the 4th and 5th floors of the building ever since the viager many moons ago took it upon himself to acquire the terrace and attic without permission of the copropriété to begin with. I’ve inherited the problems along with this jewel of an apartment, and am determined to put it all to rest, once and for all.

In some ways I look forward to tonight’s conclusion (the pleasure), but am sure that there will be many trials and tribulations along the way (the pain). I’ll report on the results next week. Stay tuned.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. Don’t miss the “1er Festival Indépendant des Musiciens de Jazz Américains à Paris” featuring Steve Potts, Kirk Lightsey, John Betsch, Jack Gregg, Sylvia Howard, Steve McCraven, Rasul Siddik, Tom McClung, j2999é Palmer, Mohamed Hafsi, Lamin Sow, Mra Oma, Wayne Dockery, Katy Roberts, Chris Dailey, Mark Sims, Ricardo Izquierdo and more. Saturday, March 13th from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the American Church – 65 Quai d’Orsay, 75007 Paris. For
tickets et Information, visit or call 01.45.4407.27 or


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