Sara Benson

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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. 

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Bill Davis

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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.

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Jerry Berg

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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.

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