Sara Benson

20160924benson

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I often see cartoons when I read the horror stories and see the abuses that take place in a residential association.  Unfortunately what my mind “sees”, my hand can’t seem to draw so others can also take advantage of the “picture” in my mind.  I have to use the thousand words to get you to see and feel what I see and feel when these stories come pouring out.  So bear with me.

One of the many images that readily comes to the forefront of my mind when thinking of the hundreds of heartbreaking stories is a tsunami  One small puff of air in the shape of a pudgy pooch or window blinds that are the wrong shade of white and off we go.  The HOA huffs and it puffs and it gathers up strength and speed and then it rolls across the oceans, demolishing everything in its wake. When the oceans unleash their fury and come inland it is called a “disaster”.  When an HOA bulldozes a member why don’t we recognize it as a disaster?  All of these horrors and abuses are slowly but surely destroying any sense of community and ” belonging” we have.  

Sara Benson joins us On The Commons.  Sara is a longtime real estate broker in Chicago where condos and co-ops abound.  Her hands-on and intimate knowledge of the residential association regime led her to co author a book called “Escaping the Condo Jail – The Keys to navigating Risks and surviving perils of the “Carefree” Community Lifestyle.”  The book has been out for a couple of years now and anytime a book, a blog, an article or even a radio show is available to the public, it acts as a lifeline to homeowners drowning in the abuses of their HOAs.  We talk to Sara about her book and follow up on some of the feedback she has received.  Keep the image of a tsunami rolling across the angry oceans, looking for a place to land as you listen to the show and you will get an idea of how well Escaping Condo Jail is doing. 

20160924benson2

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Caroline Douglas

20160917douglas1

You follow a case as it winds its way through the court system.  It seems so simple, so cut and dried that you wonder why so much time, money and hostility is invested in such a petty argument.  Why should it cost hundreds of thousands of hard earned dollars to figure out whether a homeowner in an association can have white roses instead of red ones?  Or whether or not a condo owner is allowed to have a small American flag on his or her front porch or if a family can have a swing set in the backyard for their children?  Why should these even be an issue?  And why would anyone in their right mind care?  And finally, after months of discovery, nasty letters, fines, bullying, isolation and abusive language, dividing up the neighborhood, name calling and other nastiness, the opinion from the judges is handed down deciding the case once and for all.  This is it, this is the end of this road. The wise men and women of the legal system have spoken and you are left with your mouth hanging open, wondering what on earth just happened.  

Caroline Douglas joins us On The Commons.  Caroline has a law degree although she is no longer a practicing attorney.  She has seen the dark side of the legal profession and decided to blow the whistle on what happens “behind the scenes”.  In an 800 page book called “The Dark Side: a law treatise on judging – with memoir” she explains it all and gives us clues to look for so we are not caught off guard.  In a fascinating interview she walks us through what goes on behind the scenes and how and why some of these off the wall decisions are reached.  Caroline has witnessed these irregularities both as a practicing attorney and a litigant caught in this legal “chamber of horrors”. You can reach Caroline at carolinegdouglas@gmail.com but you won’t want to miss this interview. 

20160917douglas2

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Bill Davis

20160909davis

Oh, it’s a brave new world when homeowner associations and condos are allowed, by law, to assess fines for alleged rules infractions and covenant violations. They are also permitted to add junk fees, file a lien and then foreclose to collect those charges which often include hefty attorney fees.  In many states associations have been granted priority over mortgages and other liens. What exactly does that mean?  And how do associations find all these minor problems?  The stories of covenant enforcement highlight the sheer pettiness and nastiness that seems to be quite rampant in association governed neighborhoods.   

Bill Davis joins us On The Commons.  Bill is an attorney in Texas who knows firsthand what it is like to be targeted by a homeowner association.  He regularly represents other homeowners, often in the battle of their lives against their HOAs.  We talk to Bill about super priority liens, find out what they are and what they do.  We also talk about something that is on the horizon that would allow associations to watch an owner’s every move and inspect every nook and cranny on private property.We are, of course, talking about drones.  As I mentioned, it is a brave new world.  Private property?  A home?  What will American homes and property rights look like in the future.

20160909davis2

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Jerry Berg

20160903bergA

Over the years I have spoken to so many people who have found themselves on the receiving end of the wrath and fury of their condo or homeowners associations. The fear, anger, frustration and terror are unmistakable in their voices.  They  feel trapped and don’t understand how “this can happen in America”.  They tell me they will never, ever buy another house in an association again if they are fortunate enough to get out of their current situation.  It often takes years to finally put an end to their fights.  

Jerry Berg joins us On The Commons.  Jerry, as some of you may remember, was hospitalized when the president of his condominium beat him up with a crowbar.  The president was a former judge who should have known better.  When I called Jerry recently I noticed lightness in his voice.  Was I imagining it or did he sound happier? Join us for a recap and an update on what he has been up to.  He settled his case, refused to sign a gag order so is able to talk about it and to disclose the terms of the agreement.  He has advice for others in similar situations.  His advice will surprise you.

20160903bergB

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail