Entitlement is Not a Right

Having served as a member of a condominium Board of Directors for more than 12 years, I have become accustomed to dealing with people who confuse their rights with entitlement.

What still astounds me though is the degree of indignation we witness from some folks when it is pointed out that violation of condo bylaws and policies is neither a right nor an entitlement.

Condominium bylaws and policies, much like the laws of the land, are put in place to allow for peaceful coexistence of large numbers of people. They are not intended to be restrictive, nor to serve as an impediment to lifestyle.

I live in a two-high-rise complex with over 200 homes and approximately 500 people and rarely does a day go by when we, the Board of Directors, are not called upon to address some form of errant behavior by a resident or guest.

Bad Behaviour

And it is even more indeed when we receive an apology for said behavior. The most common response is along the lines of, "I pay my condo fees so if I want to ___________________ I will."

I've long been an advocate of the "mess up, fess up, dress-up" guideline. And yet it is so common for us to hear denials when we discuss issues with residents, even when we can present irrefutable evidence of their behavior.

I clearly remember talking to a resident about damage she had caused to one of the elevators when a large item she was carrying fell out of her arms and broke a mirror while she was leaning forward and adjusting her lipstick.

She denied having anything to do with the incident even though our elevators all have cameras. She watched the video and then declared "That's not me." Ironically, she was wearing the same clothes she had been wearing when the incident occurred.

When she finally realized that denying the obvious was not going to work in her favour, she pointed out that as an owner of one of the units, she was also the owner of the mirror and therefore, breaking her own property did not make her liable for repairing it or paying for a replacement.

There is a moral to all of this. Bylaws, rules and policies are in place as a means for setting a standard for all to follow and when that standard is not upheld for all to follow, the law of gravity causes the standards of acceptable behavior to plummet lower and lower.

No architect or develop has ever set out to build a slum. Slums evolve by ever-lowering standards becoming acceptable. The Broken Window theory, as we have discussed, explains this in simple, yet irrefutable, terms.

Broken Windows

By choosing to live in a location, be it a community, a condominium, a city or a country, we tacitly agree to abide by the rules, and when we feel those rules do not apply to us, only to others, we are setting the stage for more broken windows.

Entitlement is a self-created belief that, often, reveals our true character for all to see.

Maya Angelou gave us this informative quote: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

And 12 years on a condo board have taught me that she was correct.

Something very unusual happened the other day. I received a call from a neighbour who apologetically told me that while working out in our gym he had accidentally dropped a weight and broken one of the mirrors.

And he asked me to let him know what the replacement cost would be so that he could reimburse.

I wish we had more of him.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

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