I must be a newer, more modern version of Rip Van Winkle. Once simple and easy to understand ways of living and going about my business have become so complicated and incomprehensible. Laws that must have been written by inebriated Martians have replaced common sense and common courtesy. Who, in their right mind, would even think of some of the nonsense that is becoming an accepted part of every day life? Take for instance pets in HOAs. Once an absolute no for homeowners in residential associations, CAI appears to be not only softening its stand but also encouraging pets on HOAs. Why? Not only does this inquiring mind want to know but also so do many of our listeners.
So we decided to find out just what was going on.
Stephen Marcus joins us On The Commons. Stephen is an attorney in Massachusetts who has made a career of Community Association law. He is the recent recipient of the Don Buck award, which is awarded for exceptional leadership in the field of community association law by his colleagues. Yes, he is a member of CAI but that has never stopped him from always been generous with his time, willing to talk quite candidly about some the issues that have many of us scratching our heads. So we ask Stephen what those pesky Martians have been up to lately and what changes are blowing in the wind, headed for America’s homeowners. There appears to be a lot of activity at the Federal level, some good and some maybe not so good. We also try to understand why pets are center stage – in a good way for a change – and will have an entire issue of Common Ground dedicated to them. They will also be part of CAI’s annual convention in May. Pets on parade in America’s HOAs? Who would have thunk it? Will your pet be featured in Common Ground?
When I look at the very sorry state of housing in the US, I often wonder how we got to where we are. However, I don’t have to think too hard about it because the fingerprints of dysfunction are everywhere. In the country that describes itself as the freest, the biggest, the richest and the best, how can something as simple and basic as the right to homeownership be fraught with so many pitfalls? How can America’s homeowners be subject to such unfettered powers by special interests?
Julio Robaina joins us On The Commons. Julio, a former State Representative in Florida vowed to do everything in his power to protect the rights of owners in Florida’s many condominiums. He headed up a task force, traveled the state and listened to the stories of complete and utter abuses by management companies, board members and industry attorneys. What he heard changed him profoundly. During his term in office he championed legislation that ensured some rights were protected but like all laws, they were changed. As the current co-owner of a management company, he is still working on getting the existing laws enforced. Protecting owners from fraud, embezzlement and ensuring fair elections in condominiums. We talk about all of this and also discuss the bigger picture of communal living with commingled assets, liabilities, responsibilities in a world apparently shrouded in secrecy.
Having a little corner of the world all to yourself is a dream for many. A place to call yours, to fill with the people and the things you love, to put your own personal stamp on it. But over the years the rights to that little corner of the world, or that piece of property that you own, have eroded and continue to erode. That needs to stop.
Tom DeWeese joins us On The Commons. Tom is the founder and president of the Virginia based American Policy Center. He is a passionate advocate for property rights, a prolific writer and speaker. Looking at the state of property ownership today and seeing all the policies that have stripped owners of their rights he sees opportunities for change. He wrote an article titled Five Actions Ben Carson Must Take to Control HUD’s Tyranny We talk to Tom about some of the problems and how he believes the problems can and must be corrected. We also wander off topic – just a little – and learn so much more about the possibilities that would be realized in a freer environment while fully protecting our property rights.
The New Jersey Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, ruled that the Mediterranean South co-operative building in Fort Lee, New Jersey violated an owner’s right to free speech by prohibiting him from distributing campaign literature when he ran for a seat on the board. The co-op had a house rule that prohibited owners from distributing written material, the reason given is to “preserve the residents’ quiet enjoyment of their units and to cut down on paper pollution”. But, as we know, what is good for the goose is not always good for the gander because when the board distributed their diatribes, quiet enjoyment was never a consideration and apparently, unlike all other paper, the board’s missives did not pollute. On a somewhat humorous note, (or is it ironic?), the board included the following sentence in one of their leaflets; “Can you imagine the disaster that would befall upon Med South and all of us if this group of selfish people ever got control of the Med South Board?”
Robert Dublirer joins us On The Commons. Rob is a former New York Prosecutor, so well versed in the law and quite comfortable in a court of law so after years of having his rights trampled on and being lied to, he decided to put his knowledge and skills to work. He sued the Mediterranean South co-op to protect his right to communicate with his neighbors. The rules and regulations adopted by the board include some of the most restrictive gag orders on what the owners are allowed to talk about and discuss. Join us as Rob fills us in on all his battles from the time he moved in and was not given a handicapped parking space to ending up, not only protecting his rights, but also arguing for the rights of his fellow New Jersey HOA denizens.