John Cowherd

Trump Chicago

Consumers are purchasers and users of products and services.  They have certain expectations, particularly if the item or the service they buy is expensive.  Often some of these items come with warranties.  Sometimes these warranties come in writing but at other times they are implied.  Despite the glossy brochures, the clever ads with the catchy descriptions, the promises and the dreams that are being bought and sold, are American housing consumers getting what they think they are buying?

John Cowherd joins us On The Commons.  John is a Virginia attorney with a passion for protecting individual property rights.  He represents owners in court. He is also a passionate blogger called Words of Conveyance where he writes about some of the issues homeowners and housing consumers face on a daily basis.  We learn about a law suit arising out of the purchase of a couple of luxury Hotel Condominium units in Trump Tower in Chicago.  We discuss the perils and the merits of owning common elements in a residential association.  We also talk about warranties.  What should consumers know about them and what to look out for. It is important to know and understand what is being bought.  

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Gary Solomon

child

Stress, for the most part, is unavoidable.  Problems at work, traffic jams on the way home, being late picking up the kids from the sitter, all are stressful situations.  They are all part of life. We deal with the problems as they happen and go on with our lives.  But then we go home to find a threat letter from the homeowner association because the mailbox is dusty or the mulch is the wrong color or the wrong size and we have 2 days to tear it out and replace it with the correct size and color of mulch – or else.  The kids are hungry and are whining.  That’s it, that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.  We have taken as much as we can take so we take out our anger and frustration on the kids.

Children should not have to suffer. Unfortunately all too often they are the ones who bear the brunt of our frustrations.

Dr. Gary Solomon joins us On The Commons this week.  Dr. Solomon has long warned us about the harmful effects of stress caused by HOAs on homeowners.  He has written a book HOA; Crisis in America as well as several papers  on how stress affects us physically, mentally and emotionally.   These include  HOA Syndrome Elder Abuse and his latest, Child Abuse by Proxy.  Dr. Solomon talks about child abuse by proxy on this show, he explains how it works and what happens to  children who are abused.  We talk about the fallout of bringing children up in associations where life can turn into a study of pettiness and power abuse.  

Why are American homeowners being forced to live under a microscope?  How can we put a stop to the horrors in HOAs?  Dr. Solomon has some very interesting and simple thoughts on that.  Don’t miss it.

 

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Bonner Cohen

20150815cohenWith municipal mandates for association controlled housing, life in the American suburbs has been transformed.  As intrusive and controlling as associations can be, at least housing consumers, with a few caveats, still have the ability to live where they choose to live.

But if you thought government’s reach into your  personal life and home has gone too far, hold onto your hat, because you ain’t seen nothing yet. 

Dr. Bonner Cohen joins us On The Commons this week.  Dr. Cohen is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, a senior policy advisor with the Heartland Institute, a senior policy analyst with the committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.  He is a published author and a speaker.  Dr. Cohen explains how a new HUD regulation will further government intrusion in our jurisdictions and our neighborhoods.  The HUD regulation, in its typical governments is broken down and explained in an article titled: Attention America’s Suburbs You Have Just Been Annexed.  For an in-depth discussion on this topic, tune in and listen to Dr. Cohen expand on the article.  

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Dr. Karin Huffer

I am frequently contacted by homeowners who are being bullied and abused by board members and/or managers in the  association governing their neighborhood. More often than not, the source for the conflict is petty and ridiculous.   Notwithstanding the sort of personality that tends to gravitate to these positions, our legislators have seen fit to bestow extraordinary powers on them, tipping the balance very heavily in favor of the association. The experience of being caught in the crosshairs of the association causes stress induced health challenges for the homeowners.

But suppose the homeowner is disabled? The weaker and more vulnerable amongst us are more likely to be targeted because they are easier to bully, scare and abuse.  Is there any help for the?

Dr. Karin Huffer joins us On The Commons this week.  Dr. Huffer is a multi talented force to be reckoned with.  She is an author, a speaker, a trainer and now a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.  For years, Karin has known that people with disabilities are more likely to have their rights ignored, or trampled on by everyone, including the courts. She decided to do something about it.  She set up a web page and started a program called Equal Access Advocates.  She trains people to become advocates and to accompany people with disabilities in court to protect their rights. We’ll talk to Karin about her advocates, who they are and how they help their clients.  We learn a little more about the Americans With Disabilities Act and how her program ensures that people are treated fairly.  With an advocate by their side, people in court have someone very firmly in their corner.  

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Sara Benson

survey says

Well, that’s where we need YOUR help.  Over the past several decades housing and homeownership has changed dramatically.  Gone are the days when a house was a stand alone dwelling, where the owner had full sovereignty of the real estate he or she bought.  Gradually deeds to new homes started to come with a growing list of restrictions, covenants, duties and obligations.  These changes happened over a period of time and are continuing to evolve.  All of this happened without YOUR input.  No one ever asked the housing consumers if this new form of housing was something they wanted.  No one fully explained the ramifications of all the conditions and restrictions.  In fact much of it was sugar coated or cloaked in half truths, misinformation or downright deceit.

Finally it is YOUR TURN to tell us what you think.  Take the Survey.

Sara Benson joins us On The Commons this week.  Sara is a long time Real Estate Broker in Chicago.  Over the years she has seen the problems associated with condos. co-ops and homeowner association controlled housing.  She is aware of the negative effects mismanaged and under reserved developments can have on the peace of mind of the owner, the financial plans for the future and the value of a property.  She has witnessed the stress related physical issues homeowners have as a result of a tyrannical board or management company.  She is committed to changing all that.  Sara and a small group of homeowners would like YOUR HELP to come up with a list of some of the most egregious problems.  It is YOUR TURN to be heard.  Please take the survey NOW.

A few things to keep in mind.  This survey is an independent survey and not affiliated with any industry.  The information is strictly confidential.  The questions are not about any issues or problems you have had or are having but rather your perception of what the problems are. Take the survey and have a voice in the changes that most affect you in your world.

OTC Survey

 

 

 

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Tyler Berding

They don’t build things like they used to.  The Pyramids of Egypt have been around since approximately 2700 BC, that’s almost 5000 years.  I wonder how much maintenance has been done on them over the centuries?  Our cardboard and scotch tape buildings fail after a few years and will probably not be a source of amazement in a century.  In fact, at this rate, most of them will not be still standing and that’s with maintenance.  How times they are a changing!

Tyler Berding joins us On The Commons this week.  Tyler is a founding partner of Berding and Weil, a law firm in California specializing in construction defect litigation and condominiums.  He has long warned us of the perils we are facing by not being adequately funded for multi unit housing.  Tyler also maintains a blog called, not surprisingly, Condo Issues.  Tyler talks about a couple of recent tragic building failures in California that claimed the lives of several people.  He explains why he believes these buildings are failing and what can be done about it.  He also tells us about one bill he wrote that he thinks might help in the future.  But at no time does he promise us that we will be building and living in anything that is remotely as well built as the Pyramids built by the ancient Egyptians.  

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Ileana Johnson

Words have meanings and the word community generally imparts a sense of belonging.  People in a community tend to have something in common.  They come from similar backgrounds, are generally in the same socioeconomic group, perhaps share hobbies and  interests.  They have something that binds them together.  In the good old days, before “communities” were designed and force-fed on Americans, the sense of community evolved naturally.  Neighbors were friends who helped and looked out for each other.  They took in a child who might have inadvertently been locked out, picked up packages for neighbors or retrieved a trash can that was blown down the street by the wind.  In this brave new world of controlled living, the sense of community is no longer communal but rather a gathering of people who delight is spying on their neighbors.  Now a child who is locked out might get rescued by the police, mail is left out and the association is called to report a stray trash can.   

Ileana Johnson joins us On The Commons this week.  Ileana is an American by choice and a Romanian by birth.  She is a freelance journalist, an author, a speaker and a radio commentator.  She also maintains a blog at www.ileanajohnson.com.  Ileana and her husband currently live in a Homeowner Association in Virginia where inspections are conducted regularly to ensure that no blade of grass exceeds the allowable length and that all things visible on the property conform to some rather vague standard.  Creativity and individuality are highly frowned upon.  Ileana tells us about life in her 300 square foot apartment in Communist Romania and draws some parallels between Communist Romania and HOAs, American Style.  Sometimes it is hard to find much difference.  

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Evan Mckenzie

They sounded like such great ideas, so what could possibly go wrong?  Instead of keeping residential America under the jurisdiction of local municipal governments, the trend was to put them in private enclaves where covenants ruled and where the notion of a contract was above the law.  Add a few frills where everyone shares in the expense of amenities and you have heaven on earth.  Right?  Now expand the utopian lifestyle to the renters by converting apartments into condos and establishing special financing to help them get their foot on the first rung of prosperity and we are on our way.  

As I write this, my mother’s words come back to haunt me; “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.”

Professor Evan McKenzie joins us On The Commons this week.  Evan was on the first radio show I ever did and I am delighted to have him join us as we mark our 15th anniversary of On The Commons. 

Evan is a political science professor at the University of Illinois Chicago, he teaches law at the John Marshall School of Law, he is the author of Privatopia: Homeowner Associations and the Rise of Residential Private Government and  Beyond Privatopia: Rethinking Residential Private Government.  He maintains a blog at The Privatopia Papers where he discusses and follows the news and trends on associations.  He is just back from a conference in Israel on private communities  where he presented a paper titled: “Rethinking Residential Private Government in the United States: Recent Trends in practices and Policy”.  Join  us as Evan shares some of the problems and issues other countries are facing with their experiences in private communities, and how at least one country, Spain, deals with the “apathy” problem.  

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Tom DeWeese

American homeowners once enjoyed complete sovereignty over property they owned.  Home truly was their castle where they raised their families, entertained friends, hosted get togethers and surrounded themselves with the things that meant something to them.  Sadly that way of life gradually evaporated.  Over the last three or four decades that right of ownership has eroded, leaving homeowners confused, shocked, upset and often in unimaginable trouble.  Inordinate amounts of money are spent on the most legal ridiculous legal battles with neighbors and local governments.

How did that happen?  How did a simple and sane concept devolve into the battlefields that were once our residential neighborhoods?  What happened to our “communities” where neighbors not only knew your name but were ready and willing to  help.  

Tom DeWeese joins us On The Commons this week.  Tom is one of the nation’s leading advocates on private property rights. He is the founder and president of The American Policy Center headquartered in Warrenton, Virginia.  Tom is a prolific writer, and speaker, he is energetic, outspoken and passionate about educating citizens, politicians and organizations about the many threats to our personal freedoms and our property rights.  He warns us that special interests are all too proficient at convincing politicians to enact harmful legislation and to adopt policies designed to alter the way we live.  With upcoming elections, candidates will be appearing and speaking at a number of public events.  He has devised 3 questions to ask political hopefuls about the environment, education and eminent domain. Tom demonstrates how all these issues are part of the bigger picture, including residential associations.  

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Jerry Berg

Violence is alive and well in residential America. So is bullying.  And so are the feelings of helplessness, loneliness and frustration that countless American homeowners face on a daily basis.  Quite a few of these stories do make the headlines but many more of them never see the light of day.  We’ve heard from homeowners who were beaten up during meetings for asking questions, we’ve heard about  the elderly being shoved and pushed by the bullies in charge, we’ve heard about pets being poisoned and shot, we’ve heard about owners and guests being terrorized by cars on the streets of their developments.  We’ve heard about the stresses of association living get to the point where death is preferable.  There have been more suicides and attempted suicides in residential America than we can even begin to imagine.

What is it about this version of the American Dream that causes so much violence, stress and pain for the members?  And why is the real government so oblivious to these problems?

Jerry Berg joins us On The Commons.  Jerry is a Kansas condo owner who has experienced first hand some of the violence that seems to be prevalent in America’s over almost half a million mandatory membership condos and homeowner associations.  We’ll talk to Jerry and find out what led to the violent confrontation that put him in the hospital after being beaten up with a crowbar and put the manager in jail, at least briefly.   We’ll also find out why, after several years, nothing has been resolved and the cases are ongoing.  We’ll learn how the bullying in his particular association caused two of his neighbors to commit suicide.

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News and Views About Homeowner Associations