We get mail, emails, messages and other forms of communication. Always happy to hear from you. I find it interesting that so many of you have the same name, “Anonymous”, often there is no name or return address for snail mail or email addresses so this show is dedicated to responding to a couple of recent messages.
First of all, I got a letter proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that all is not well in HOAland. The letter starts off by saying “my HOA board is provoking me to commit suicide.” I can fully understand the sheer frustration of having to deal with a bunch of bullies but PLEASE don’t commit suicide. No HOA is worth your life. I have yet to find any truthful and honest benefit of an HOA for the owners. Sadly many frustrated, harassed and abused HOA owners have committed suicide over the years. And the HOA lives on to abuse more homeowners. The best advice I have for you is to GET OUT and, with other HOA survivors help get the message out. Talk to legislators IN PUBLIC, preferably with cameras on so they can’t just sweep your comments and concern under the rug as they have a tendency to do. It is time they understand what they have done and FIX IT.
Bill Davis joins us On The Commons. Bill, a Texas attorney represents HOA homeowners and has more insight from a real life point. I get the most comments about Bill. People want me to clone him, another Anonymous writer complains about Bills audio quality but then says, “once you get Bill’s audio problems fixed; more episodes with Bill and John Cowherd together.” Bill and I talk about some of the issues raised by the writer and explain the problem with his audio. You will be happy to know that we had no problems with the audio on this show. Tune in to find out what Bill did to “fix” it.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Caveat Emptor, buyer beware, was once the watch word for housing consumers. In other words, do your homework and understand what you are doing because if you buy it you “own it”, all of it, the good, the bad and the ugly. Notwithstanding all the laws, allegedly protecting real estate buyers, “caveat emptor” is probably more applicable now than ever before. Real estate deals are no longer simply between the buyer and the seller, today there are many other interests involved in every transaction. The ever present HOA always rears its ugly head and inserts itself in the middle of the sales contract.
Jonathan Friedrich joins us On The Commons. Jonathan’s story should remind us to do our homework so that we know what we are buying. It should also warn us not rely on what we are told. Because Jonathan relied on the information provided by title company, it cost him thousands of dollars for HOA assessments he did not owe because, surprise, his house was NOT part of the HOA. Nice surprise but it cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars extricating himself from the HOA he never belonged to. He recently won a major legal battle and is rightly very proud of himself. But that is not the end of the story, he is now going to try to recoup some of the money he has spent to get this far. What he will never regain is the years of “fighting”to protect what is rightfully his. Tune in and listen to Jonathan’s story, in his own words. F ind out how he discovered the clue that led him on this journey.
Gone are the days when being a property owner meant having dominion over your property. With the imposition of mandatory membership residential associations and the restrictive covenants that are attached to the deed, homeowners have lost some of the most basic and fundamental rights of the use and enjoyment of their homes. Those restrictions range from something as basic and mundane as a choice of plants, to the approved shade of white for the interior window blinds to something a little more serious like having a fence to keep children and pets safe and even to having children and pets at all.
Are restrictive covenants and neighborhood Nazis the only threat to a property owner’s right to ownership?
Dr. Bonner Cohen joins us On The Commons this week. Dr. Cohen is a Senior Fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, a position he has had since 2002. He is also a Senior Policy Analyst with the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow; and the author of The Green Wave. Dr. Cohen takes us on a trip down memory lane and reminds us of the advantages and opportunities we enjoyed in the past and compares them to the way we live today. He explains how and why, slowly, very slowly, rights, education, health, wealth and the way we live have been adversely affected. He very clearly helps us follow the laws, regulations and policies that have stripped us of things we once enjoyed and took for granted. The changes were gradual, the results were by design and we never noticed them until they were here. Is it too late or can we wrest control of our world back from the special interests? Listen to Bonner Cohen
An often cited benefit for residential associations used to be that they allowed the members greater control over their immediate surroundings. The other bonus they were promised was that collectively they would gain political clout. At least that was the sales pitch, along with the ever present promise of enhanced property values. It all sounded wonderful and in a perverse sense sounded sort of logical. But as we have learned over the years not everything works the way it is supposed to. In fact in the case of residential associations, the opposite is true. Not only don’t the members have control over their immediate surroundings but have lost sovereignty over their own private spaces. The existence of an HOA or Condo association is infinitely more intrusive and tyrannical than a neighborhood where the residents are on their own and allegedly have no control.
Jonathan Dessaules joins us On The Commons. Jon is an attorney in Phoenix, Arizona. As part of his practice he represents homeowners against their associations. He is one of a handful of attorneys nationwide who will only represent the owners and not straddle the fence hopping over to the HOA side when they feel like it. Currently his is in a class of his own in Arizona. He also has a blog where he discusses HOA issues and gives general guidance. It’s a great page to check out for quick guidance on some of the more common issues facing homeowners. We talk to Jon about all the usual HOA issues common to all American homeowners but we also talk about a long and protracted case that he recently won. His clients own a unit in an upscale condominium where the fees are in excess of $1,000/month. The condo shut the key card down, impeding access to the private unit and banned the use of the amenities until the owners forfeited a right they had. So much for having greater control of your immediate surroundings in a residential association.
It is one of the most beautiful times of the year when people seem to be filled with good cheer and love for their fellow man and woman. To celebrate that their good cheer, they go out of their way to deck their homes with wreaths and lights and all kinds of outdoor decorations. It is the time of year when families either walk around their neighborhoods enjoying the decorations or, with children’s faces in wide eyed wonder, drive through other neighborhoods oohing and aahing over the decorations. But it is also the time of year for the grinch to rear its ugly head, especially where these Christmas decorations are in a homeowners association. We all know that we can’t have fun in a residential association, don’t we?
Deborah Goonan joins us On The Commons. Deborah is the creator and host of the amazing and much read blog called Independent American Communities. where all the latest HOA stories can be found. And as can be expected stories about Christmas and other holiday lights and decorations are coming under fire by the HOA grinches right about now. Not only are people’s holidays being ruined by the HOA self anointed Supreme Neighbors who think they have a right to dictate who, what, how, where and when residential America may celebrate the holidays but in the process may be ruining fundraising efforts for needy charities. For one such story (with a happy ending) check this out. And of course the UBER grinch (CAI) to the rescue with their “guidelines” on when, where, how, how many, what color, etc, etc, etc. Is it any wonder that more and more housing consumers are listing NO HOA in their list of must have’s when house hunting? Ho Ho Ho.
Have you noticed how all sense flies out the window when an involuntary membership homeowners association is involved? All of a sudden we fear anything that is not part of that uniform look and feel of a kontrolled kommunity. A different shade of blah can topple an entire neighborhood, an unapproved garden hose, dusty mailboxes, flags, rose bushes and pudgy pooches are all a threat to property values. An addition that doesn’t quite konform to the existing architectural guidelines will no doubt turn the neighborhood green with envy.
Oh, get real!
Joining us On The Commons this week are Maria and Sam Farran. The Farrans weren’t about to believe all the nonsense they were told. They did their homework, knew the rules and the laws and decided to fight back. After years of court room drama, they won their cases and were awarded attorney fees and court costs. However, there was a snag. You see, in the process, their HOA ran out of money and went bankrupt. But there is a happy ending after all. As Maria says; “We used to be a corporation that ran a neighborhood, we are now a neighborhood that runs a corporation”. I won’t ruin it for you so tune in and find out how they got their money and what happened to the association. You’ll love it.How did they do it? Well, look for their new and improved governing documents On The Commons and yes, you may use them as a template if you too want to return common sense and a sense of community to your neighborhood.
“Home is the starting place of love, hope and dreams” it is also a place to be safe and express our own personalities. A nd “home is where our story begins” or perhaps, where it continues today.
Larry Murphree joins us On The Commons. Larry, an Air Force veteran, who, like all the other veterans, laid his life on the line to protect the country and the flag that he so loves . Not a terribly difficult concept to understand, is it? In fact it is a lot easier to comprehend than the complex and convoluted concept of a private home being forced into a residential association that is subject to the whims, thuggery and control of the others.
And Larry’s home is where Larry’s story begins. To show his love for his country and for his fellow troops that he shares so much with, 7 years ago Larry put a small flag in his flowerpot on his porch. As you may know, flags and pink flamingos anywhere in an HOA controlled property is somewhat akin to waving a red flag in front of a bull. The reaction from the association is as swift, brutal and often as violent as that of a massive charging bull – except unlike a dumb bull, HOAs know exactly what they are doing, and Larry’s HOA was no exception. First came the violation letter, “There is an unapproved object in your flowerpot” followed by the threats then the fines and the misdirected assessments, the name calling, the public shaming, and of course the never-ending nitpicking, harassment and abuse, liens and foreclosure. All this has been going on for over 7 years and instead of finally stopping, it continues. Larry’s next court date is next week.
Isn’t it time America woke up and realized that HOAs are doing more harm than good? It is time to pull the plug on HOAs. Time to go back to private property being truly private and home being the place where families and loved ones are allowed to be themselves, where love, hope and dreams live.
Americans always took such great pride in the personal freedoms guaranteed them in the constitution. While the founders maintained that these rights were God given and always belonged to the people, the Constitution ensured that the government could not remove them. Probably the 1st Amendment, protecting the right to free speech, is best known yet there seems to be a concerted effort to strip Americans of this right. Much like Pavlov’s dogs we are being trained to limit our freedom of speech little by little. There are many ways this is being done but probably one of the most blatant is moving entire segments of the population into controlled environments where we are told we “agreed” to give up our rights.
John Cowherd joins us On The Commons. John is an attorney in Northern Virginia, who is not only knowledgeable in HOA law, but is one of a handful of attorneys who does represent homeowners. He maintains a blog called Words of Conveyance and recently blogged about Brindley v. City of Memphis and he joins us to discuss this case. We’ll talk to John about Brindley whose right to free speech was curtailed in a property owners association and why he sued the city and the police department and not the association and won.
First you scare them, then you promise to protect them and then you own them. Once that is accomplished, perpetrating the biggest consumer scam is a piece of cake. Buying a few state legislators’ assistance, creating a very lucrative stream of “free” income for the municipalities, paving the way for developers to increase their profit margins exponentially seals the deal. And that is how simple it has been to force housing consumers into HOAs where they can be robbed of their homes, their wealth and health and their peace of mind. The lies that have been repeated over the decades to scare prospective homeowners appear to have become universally accepted truths. After all, if you keep hearing the same thing over and over again, if must be true, right? However, the one thing that is true is that non HOA controlled housing is almost nonexistent in most of the country. So being told that the house you are buying is in a mandatory membership homeowner association is no surprise.
Jonathan Friedrich joins us On The Commons. When he retired, Jonathan left New York in search of lower property taxes and moved to Las Vegas, Nevada where he bought a house that needed a lot of work. He rolled up his sleeves and got to work. When he bought the house he was given an HOA disclosure package which contained a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions commonly known as CC&Rs. Jonathan’s concern was getting away from crippling property taxes and not so much HOAs. His focus was fixing the house he had just bought and making it habitable. He also became involved in his new community. And that’s when the imperfections of his association and association living in general started rising to the top. He dealt with all the usual insanity that seems to go along with HOAs which not so surprisingly led to the court house. After 5 long years in court, Jonathan won his case. But as the saying goes, the devil is in the details and to truly appreciate the win one has to hear the details of his story, in his own words. The twists, the turns, the lies, the misrepresentations made along the way should alert consumers of what to look for and where to look when buying a house. There may be more to come as Jonathan is not finished cleaning up the mess. Stay tuned.
Housing consumers have been told that in an HOA they would enjoy greater control over their environment, they would have full and complete access to all the books and records of the association, their property values would be enhanced and protected and all this while providing them the luxury of carefree living. Hmm? My mother always told me that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. In this case she was right. As far as I can make out the entire HOA housing concept is built on a mountain of lies and more lies and these lies are starting to fall like a house of cards.
Scott Wircenske joins us On The Commons. Scott is a homeowner in Parkhill Manor association located in Olathe, Kansas. His battle is not new and like many people embroiled in HOA issues and problems, he has learned more about associations than he ever wanted to know. So many problems and issues keep coming up again and again in cities, towns and municipalities in state after state across the country. Same problems, same issues, same MO, just the names of the people are different. Many of these problems can be filed under the heading of mismanaged funds or lack of transparency or both. In Scott’s story both of these issues take center stage. Usually when ANY (and I use the term loosely) governing body is reluctant to act in the open and insists on hiding under cover of darkness, there is a reason for it. Scott kept asking the embarrassing questions, information he was entitled to but instead of answers he kept getting vilified by the members of his HOA. You see, they were following the official HOA script. You’ll recognize them when you listen to Scott. Not one to back away, Scott odyssey has been going on for several years, and still continues. His story and experiences should serve as a warning to housing consumers looking for a house in an HOA.