Nila Ridings

Millions of dollars unaccounted for, a neighborhood divided, lawsuits, shoddy repairs on some units, shunned members, bully boards, depreciating property values, lies, finger pointing and a thoroughly unpleasant place to live.  It must be a) a Bentley Little novel, b) a horror movie, c) an isolated incident or d) one of many dysfunctional homeowner associations across the country?  

If you guessed d, give yourself a pat on the back.  The stories, the details, the incidents just keep repeating themselves over and over again from the Atlantic to the Pacific and all points in between. Is it something in the water or do they clone incompetent people and put them in charge of YOUR home and your most valuable asset?  

Nila Ridings joins us On The Commons this week.  Nila has been right in the middle of a fight to save her home, her sanity and her health.  She is a frequent guest blogger and writes extensively on these issues.  She often hears from other homeowners who are having problems and looking for help.  Not surprisingly, finding someone to explain the problems and offer help is a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack.  Today Nila tells us, from her personal experience, what it is like being trapped in the crosshairs of an HOA that simply won’t let go.  She also tells us how some of our best intentions can cause those we love some serious headaches.  And she shares  some valuable advice.  


Deborah Goonan


Over the last several decades, residential America has undergone a radical transformation.  Gone is the concept and practice of the owners enjoying sovereignty over their own homes.  No longer is the local municipal government the closest layer of government.  Although no one has actually signed away any constitutionally protected rights, the very structure of association housing has placed obstacles in the full use and enjoyment of those rights.  All these changes occurred without the consent of the governed.  

It was time to change that!  Association Evaluation, LLC decided to ask the very people stuck in these developments to share their thoughts, concerns and their experiences.  In a survey available online for about a month, over 300 people responded.  And how did homeowners respond to those questions?  The results of that survey have been tabulated and are available, in their entirety, no editing and no summaries, and are available for your inspection on the Coalition for Consumer Housing Policy in the Public Interest web page.

Deborah Goonan joins us On The Commons this week.  Deborah, is a prolific blogger and commentator about all things to do with homeowner associations, condominiums and co-operatives.  In addition to being a contributing writer for blogs and several online venues, she has her own blog called Independent American Communities.  Deborah was one of the people who worked behind the scenes on this survey right from the very beginning.  She explains why they asked the questions and talks about the responses they got.  Apparently not everything is as rosy and carefree in residential America as we have been led to believe.  There are some serious issues and some very serious problems.  One of the big problems is the lack of choices for housing consumers.  There are few surprises in the results.  The comments are consistent with what we have been hearing from the real people who have to live in the forced mandatory membership developments. 


Gary Solomon

Dr. Solomon has had his finger on the pulse of association atrocities for a number of years. He has heard from homeowners who were confused, scared and at their wit’s end.  They have talked to him, cried on his shoulder and written him long emails.  Through it all, he has developed a keen sense of what people are going through and what the effects are on their health.  He understands the terror some homeowners live under and he also has unique perspective of where it all started and where it is headed.  And the news is not good.

Dr. Gary Solomon joins us On The Commons this week. Dr Solomon is a retired Psychology Professor and a psychotherapist who has been studying the physical, emotional and psychological effects of stress and abuse on HOA homeowners. He has written a number of papers discussing the problems and published an e-book called HOA Crisis in America that is available for free.  His research continues and he is committed to making a difference in the HOA arena.  He explains why we are having these problems.   It all comes down to money and the never ending supply that is being syphoned out of owners’ accounts.  


Nancy Hentschel


The peeps are rebelling!  Finally!  No longer do homeowners believe that uniformity and conformity enhance property values.  Nor do they believe that a homeowners associations creates “community”. They are tired of living in fear and refuse to be silenced any longer.  With every negative story about HOAs that hit the media, hundreds and thousands of people have been commenting.  Oh, I admit, a handful still repeat the inane sound bites like “you agreed”, “if you don’t like it, move”. Agreed to what?  Being abused and losing your home?  What idiot would do something like that?  Move?  Where to?  Their comments make no more sense now than they ever did.  By far most of the comments are pro homeowner and passionately anti HOA.  Are you listening, CAI?

And did you ever think that an HOA could actually do some good?It’s ingenious!  Keep reading and tune in to the show.

Nancy Hentschel joins us On The Commons this week.  Nancy and her husband live in a large Homeowners association of single family homes in Texas. A few weeks ago they finally bought a couple of dinosaurs they fell in love with over a year ago.  Once the dynamic dino duo took up residence in New Territory, something quite remarkable happened. Predictably they heard from the association but they also heard from their neighbors.  As Nancy said, she met more of her neighbors than she had in all the years they have lived there.  They not only came to the house but they wrote all over the internet. Some of the comments were short and to the point,  “keep the dinos.  Please, oh please”.  “I think this is really cool, I wish they were my neighbors” and “Putting the neighbor in the neighborhood, one big claw at a time.”    But there is more.  Thanks to Nancy’s ingenuity and generosity, what started out as an expression of individuality, is doing some real good.  The dinosaurs are moving around the neighborhood and checking out other front yards.  For a $50 donation to any charity of their choice, all her New Territory neighbors can host the dynamic duo for 3 days before they move on to another yard.  With approximately 5000 homes in New Territory, the dino walkabout can do some serious good.  Cheers to the Hentschel’s, their “authentic  community”, a neighborhood that refuses to be silenced and a couple of prehistoric creatures who have come back to show us the error of our ways.  What fun!



Linc Cummings


Byron Hanke is largely credited with being the grandfather of what we often refer to as “homeowner associations”.  But this concept of homeownership includes condominiums, co-ooperatives as well as fee simple single family homes.  As I started looking at the bigger picture of HOAs, I wondered about the origins of the concept.  I called Byron Hanke several times and talked to him on the phone.  He never agreed to be interviewed but was generous with his time when it came to talking one on one.  In October of 1999 I got a call from Lincoln Cummins, one of the three founders of CAI and its second President, inviting me to a summit to be held at at Anne and Byron’s house in a place called “Scientists Cliffs” in Maryland.  Scientists Cliffs served as a model for HOAs.

Lincoln Cummings joins us On The Commons this week.  Linc has been involved from the very beginning so has a unique perspective.  He takes us on a trip down memory lane to the very early days of association housing,  introduces us to the people involved and talks a little about the thoughts and plans they had.  We’ll find out whether or not their ideas materialized as imagined or whether some things went astray.  We’ll also ask Linc, hindsight being 20/20, if he could go back to the very beginning, would he do anything differently.


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.  


Gary Solomon


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.



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.  


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.  


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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