I am beginning to think that any lie will do. As long as no one looks too closely, as long as the lie sounds plausible, as long as it is delivered with a straight face, it is good to go. You really do not have to go too much farther than the lies that are told when selling HOAs. Just think of the ones that are routinely used to make surrendering sovereignty of our homes sound like such an honor and you will understand what I mean. A few buzzwords that need no explanation readily come to mind; “carefree living”, “protecting property values” and “democracy up close and personal”.
Such a deal! You give up the right to decide what to plant in your front yard in return for having a say in what happens in the community.
So how does that work?
Marjorie Murray joins us On The Commons. Marjorie is the founder and president of the Center for California Homeowner Association Law. Over the years she and the Center for California Law have tirelessly tracked legislation and have worked with like minded groups and legislators to ensure that homeowner friendly laws are enacted. They have educated law makers about the hidden dangers and pitfalls of proposed bills that would benefit the HOA industry to the detriment of the owners and have fought valiantly to defeat them when they have come up. One such bill that reared its ugly head in California this year was AB1799 The bill was introduced and explained as a cost saving measure for associations. On the surface it may sound like a great idea BUT WAIT A MINUTE, what would it really do? And just how well would this new law, had it passed, square with the “Democracy up close and personal” benefit to HOA living we are promised? Marjorie explains in detail what this bill would have done and gives some solid tips on how to find, and fight, these bills when they are introduced in a State Capitol near you. You know they are coming to your neck of the woods. She also gives some good advice on how to expose the, um, shall we we say, untruths in the claims? You’ll want to tune in and never underestimate the importance of letting your legislators hear from you.
We can all make a mistake but when we intentionally seek to mislead, it is called a lie. Habitual liars have no credibility and without credibility they really have nothing. Who is going to believe them? But when it comes to sales, intentionally misleading the public should, and at one point did, have consequences. At least when it comes to property, which is always an emotional decision. A false statement about the property can sway a decision one way or the other. It is imperative that consumers are given all the TRUE facts and allowed to make an educated decision as to whether to proceed with the purchase or not.
And what happens when the ads are misleading?
Martha Boneta joins us On The Commons. Martha, many of you know, realized her childhood dream of becoming a farmer when she and her family bought Liberty Farms in Paris, Virginia. At the time of the sale the farm was dilapidated and in desperate need of a lot of tender loving care. A patriot and someone who loves the land and Virginia and tirelessly posts photos of her beloved Commonwealth on her Facebook page, the physical condition of the farm was less important than the purported historic significance of the farm. The emotional hook for Martha was the allegation that Stonewall Jackson bivouacked on the land that was now part of the farm. For someone who loves her country as much as she does, no other farm anywhere was as precious as Liberty Farm. So she bought it, cleaned it up, fixed it up and turned it into a little corner of heaven on earth. At least when it comes to the condition of the farm. But heaven was still a long, long way away. Join us as we catch up with Martha and life on Liberty Farm.
I have been scratching my head, trying to understand the thinking behind homeowner and condo associations. It was a big mystery 36 years ago when I first encountered these confounding things. It is still a huge mystery. Condo associations are a different breed of animal but I still fail to understand the need for all the gibberish that seems to be part and parcel of this ancient and once simple and uncomplicated housing concept. After almost 30 years of studying residential associations and trying to understand them, I am still scratching my head. What would happen if we removed that 4th layer of government and taxing power? Would the world collapse? Perhaps local municipal governments would have to become better stewards of public funds instead of thinking money grows on trees? Now that would be a tragedy, wouldn’t it? Or would we become a nation of red doors, cars on blocks and toilets adorning front yards? Does anyone really believe that? We are told that this form of governance brings us “democracy, up close and personal”. Still trying to understand that one. All the pretty speak surrounding this type of homeownership assures housing consumers they will have far greater influence over the way their communities work. I say hogwash!
Tom LePage joins us On The Commons this week. Tom is a property manager north of the border, in Ontario, Canada. With over 30 years of experience in the field of property management he branched out into consulting and says he has a passion for well managed condominiums. Tom has been following all the nonsense that goes on here, south of his border and is, no doubt, scratching his head as well. He is the founder of Condo-Ology and maintains a blog that can be accessed from his web page. Property managers here, there and everywhere are a dime a dozen but one thing that makes Tom different is his firm belief in TRANSPARENCY. That word is one of the first words you will find on his website. Join us for a fun interview as we compare and contrast typical association issues, talk about potential “fixes”, discuss some that have been tried in the US and start to explore more ideas. Tom has a lot of ideas that deserve to be heard so listen to part one now as I hope he will be back sometime soon with more of his ideas.
Increasingly in America homeowners are treated like incompetent idiots who are incapable of managing their own lives and their homes. Members of the HOA industry have gone as far as to equate the owners as “children who do not know what is good for them”. Naturally they are more than happy to make all our important decisions for us- and leave us with the bill! To add insult to injury, the false advertising and misinformation that, under most other circumstances, would be punishable by law, is swept under the rug and ignored. Unit owners in homeowner and condo associations are often ridiculed, harassed and penalized for demanding transparency or even questioning the actions of the association. Their duty is to not ask why but to pay up and shut up.
Well, times they are a changing. Slowly but surely more and more talented people have had enough and are starting to move mountains, one stone at a time!
John Sellers joins us On The Commons this week. John has worked in the banking industry for years and knows just where to look for any irregularities. So when things just didn’t smell quite right, he put his talents to work and started digging. What he discovered is quite incredible. Not only are the people who are supposed to be protecting your rights turning a blind eye to all the shenanigans going on behind closed doors, but they are also using YOUR tax dollars to cover up some missing funds in HOA banks. John continued digging and was told to “get a hobby”. Fortunately for us, he took that advice to heart, expanded his search criteria and started a blog called ArizonaHOA where he intends to not only share information but to also gather information from other homeowners. He estimates there have been 3,000 court cases involving HOAs in Arizona. Chances are those did not happen because associations were doing such a wonderful job, as proponents of HOAs would have you believe. Tune in, it is an eye opening interview.
When trying to decipher the issues and problems with personal rights and private property rights, I often feel overwhelmed. There are just so many ways all our rights are stripped that trying to track them all is a bit like what I imagine drinking from a fire hydrant would feel like. At the very least you get soaked, breathing would be extremely difficult and it is questionable just how much you actually manage to drink. And that is exactly how I feel when dealing with these issues. The micromanagement from all levels of the real governments, their omnipotent NGOs and the lowly first rung petty dictators in your local HOA is unbelievable. There is no end to the rules, laws, regulations, ordinances, covenants designed to control almost every aspect of your life.
Tom DeWeese joins us On The Commons. Tom is the founder and president of the Virginia based American Policy Center and the editor of The DeWeese Report. He is an author, a speaker, an advocate, an activist and, with several decades of studying the master manipulators and the property robbers worldwide, a font of knowledge. He is passionate about what he does and with a well-organized and easy to follow narrative manages to fit in many missing pieces to the jigsaw puzzle the rest of us are trying to solve. He zooms his lens out and looks at the big picture and then easily slips the puzzle pieces in place, before zooming back in and bringing the picture into focus. I always learn so much when I spend some time listening to Tom. By the way, did I mention he is also a very nice person and fun to talk to? He is. You’ll want to tune in.
I always believed that the government’s job was to protect its citizens. But, just like HOAs protecting property values, that too appears to be a misconception. Maybe the government’s real goal always was self aggrandizement and self enrichment hidden under layers of feigned caring. Perhaps I am only now beginning to realize that or maybe the corruption and gross government misconduct has reached new heights that it is no longer possible to sweep their misdeeds under the rug and pretend they don’t exist. Or has their callousness reached new heights? Surely, when presented with evidence that their constituents are being physically harmed, they would at least listen and take steps to ensure their safety.
Michelle Germano joins us On The Commons. Michelle is the lead plaintiff in the Chinese drywall class action lawsuit. Michelle bought her dream home – a brand new townhouse in a brand new development where she planned to live and work. It wasn’t long after she moved in that things started going terribly wrong. Appliances stopped working, electrical wires disintegrated, her house had a horrible odor that she couldn’t get rid of, her dog got sick and she got sick. She found out that her neighbors were also getting sick. Following a lot of sleuthing, she discovered the source of her ailments – Chinese drywall. She tried to enlist the help of her representatives, both at the state and the Federal levels. No one was interested! After repeated attempts to get Virginia legislators involved she received a call advising her to give up because the “condo lobby” (read CAI) owned condo legislation. Nobody in DC even bothered to respond. In a no holds barred, frank, detailed and emotional interview, Michelle takes us on a roller coaster ride of her life with Chines drywall, her condo association and the legislators elected to represent us.