Caroline Douglas

Caroline Douglas

In a free and civilized society there is the expectation that the citizens have rights, including the right to be treated fairly.  However fairness seems to be one of the first casualties in mandatory membership residential associations.  Gone are all the safeguards put in place by the Constitution.  Gone is the notion of checks and balances and the idea that in the event of a dispute there will be a fair and just outcome. Is this just an HOA problem or does it affect other institutions?

Caroline Douglas joins us On The Commons.  Caroline has a law degree, and is passionate about the law.  She is an author and a professor in Maryland and is always willing to share her knowledge, expertise and ideas with us.  She is very well aware of the what can happen when the safety nets fail to ensure fairness.  We’ll talk about the meaning and need for law.  We also learn about a 30 year old case, how that was handled in court and what has happened in the Pam Smart case.  How can we ensure fairness in this world?

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Robin Lent

“If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”  When confronted with anything that “sounds too good to be true”, don’t take it at face value, instead do a little digging to get the details.  One of these golden gems in the land of residential associations is Alternate Dispute Resolution, or ADR.  Proponents would have us believe arbitration and mediation are cheaper, quicker and better than going to court.  It sounds too good to be true so I did a little digging, and several years ago wrote a paper on my findings which is on my web site. You can read it  here.  But there is so much more. 

As time goes on and more and more people fall in the trap of giving up their right to go to court, some pretty unsavory details have come to light. Mediation is used pretty extensively in neighborhood association wars which usually include a confidentiality clause, in other words, a gag order. I have always opposed this.  

Robin Lent joins us On The Commons.  Robin, a Texas homeowner got tangled up in a battle with her association 10 years ago, went to a court ordered mediation and after an exhausting session, when she was ready to drop, signed an agreement that included a confidentiality clause.  The terms of the settlement are sealed so we will NOT be discussing them BUT for the details of the mediation process, and the fall out of the gag order,  you will have to tune in.  It was a huge eye opener for me and I learned so much from this show.  So, you think you want to go to arbitration?  Please tune in.   

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John Cowherd and Bill Davis

I can’t even begin to tell you just how appalled, angry, disgusted and frustrated I am at the state of housing, American style.  Most countries in the world have a healthier respect for private spaces, whether those spaces are owned by the residents or leased.  But with the proliferation of mandatory, forced membership in residential corporations, Americans are subject to the whims and caprices of neighborhood self appointed “enforcers” and their hired ” professionals” aka, HOA attorneys. After all, they really are not smart enough or capable enough to live in their own homes without a lot of oversight.

John Cowherd and Bill Davis join us On The Commons in the first of a two part show analyzing how and why we got to having such disrespect and disdain for private property. The largest tools in these tyrants’ toolbox is the statutory right to fine and then to foreclose to collect these fines. No oversight is provided by the governmental bodies authorizing these remedies, no thought to protecting the rights of the owners.  After all, they agreed, right?  

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Caroline Douglas

Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.  Whether Einstein said it or not is debatable but what is certain is that the quote is common sense.  Yet for some reason we insist on doing the same thing over and over and over again, convincing ourselves that this time it will work.  THIS time the results will be different.  And yet again, we are disappointed and frustrated.  This is especially true when it comes to “fixing” all the problems with residential associations.  We believe that one more law requiring or prohibiting something will drastically alter the failing HOA system.  But all those statutes do little other than complicate and compound the problems.  Maybe it is time to start thinking outside the box and looking at different “solutions” – different ways of protecting homeowner assets and rights.

Caroline Douglas joins us On The Commons.  Caroline is passionate about the Law, a subject she loves and is always willing to talk about and share thoughts and ideas with us.  This week we brainstorm ideas that would allow homeowners to get what it is they want most, the right to be left alone and to enjoy the peace and sanctity of their own homes.  We explore the possibility of taking the fight to a different arena and using a different battle cry.  We learn about potential rights and remedies.  Tune in for an idea packed hour of ways to stop doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting different results.

Tell us your stories  in your own words 

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