Deborah Goonan

How do you suppose the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” would have ended had the town’s people been prohibited from yelling that the emperor was naked? The emperor was being robbed, lied to, made a fool of and convinced that he was indeed wearing beautiful new clothes, clothes that he could not see.  Afraid of admitting he couldn’t see them he went along with their deception. Fortunately the thieves were not able to brainwash everyone and the truth did get out.  These days it is so much easier to convince large groups of people by broadcasting the lies and then controlling free speech.  It can be as simple as controlling words or preventing people from gathering or even setting up websites and enforcing much of that through the courts.

Deborah Goonan joins us  On The Commons.  Deborah is the host, prolific author and owner of the  Independent American Communities, a must read blog if you want to keep up with what’s going on in HOA land.  Two of her recent blogs dealt with a couple of my pet peeves, the much abused and often ignored 1st Amendment in HOAs and whether or not HOAs, as some people would have us believe, are here to stay.  We’ll talk to Deborah about a 10 year lawsuit dealing with an owner’s right to free speech.  In an effort to prevent the homeowner in this association from yelling that the emperor was naked, any excuse will do, they headed to court.  In this case the creative argument was a trademark infringement. And then I ask Deborah whether or not we will ever be  free of HOAs.  She had some very interesting facts and comments.  

Listen to Deborah Goonan
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Frank Short

I have never much liked the idea of mandatory membership homeowner associations.  The concept of  binding private real property to a hodgepodge of real estate owned by a third party, maintained and controlled by a motley crew of individuals with no expertise in the art of management has always seemed counterintuitive to me.  That the model is not working is no real surprise.  What galls me the most though is the idea that a handful of owners and hired managers are allowed to fine the owners. This is a power that is often used as a bully tool and abused.  The fines can lead to the loss of a home and their financial security.  

Frank Short joins us On The Commons.  Frank, an attorney and a popular repeat guest of the show, discusses fines in HOAs and Condominiums.  He explains why we have fines and who benefits from the fines.  Over the years there have been a number of court cases about fines.  He discuses those cases, explains what the courts considered and tells  us how they ruled.  He also explains the constitutional connections.  This is an excellent show from the archives.  For those being fined by their HOAs for whatever reason, this show is a must for the owner and their attorneys.  

Can You see the violation?
(Hint: The owner of this unit lost his home over flying the American Flag)
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Bill Davis

“It’s a contract” they say.  “You agreed” they insist.  They accuse you of reneging on your promise.  And before you know it, you are being evicted from your home for some senseless reason.  There is so much wrong with this HOA concept, I don’t know where to begin to list even half of the problems.  One of the biggest injustices is the imbalance of power.  If, as proponents of HOAs insist that it is a “contract”, then how come both parties to the contract don’t have the same enforcement abilities ?  When the association, be it a condo, coop or HOA fails to provide the services they are paid to provide, the only recourse available to the owner is to try to find an attorney, go to court and hope to get a judge who understands the issues. 

Bill Davis joins us On The Commons.  Bill is a Texas attorney who knows and understands the issues and the laws involving home and condo associations.  He is a frequent guest On The Commons and is one of a handful of attorneys who will represent the owners.  We talk about the huge imbalance in the abilities of the homeowners to enforce the “contract”.  We have both spoken to so many homeowners who have found themselves homeless because they got tired of paying for services they were not getting.  We discuss the duties and obligations of both parties.  It might not surprise you to learn that there is also an imbalance in the duties and obligations of the parties as well.  You’ll have to tune in.  

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Caroline Douglas

Caroline Douglas

The benefit of making mistakes should be that we learn from them and – hopefully- avoid making the same mistakes over and over again.  So how come we never seem to learn from the mistake of imposing a 4th layer of government on housing consumers?  This extra layer of government has  no   oversight, no separation of powers, no constitutional restraints and total and complete disregard for individual and property rights.   Could the answer be that it really is not a mistake?

Caroline Douglas is back  by popular demand,  On the Commons . Caroline has a Juris Doctor, she has written a law treatise called The Dark Side and is about to teach the material from her book in several college courses in Baltimore, Maryland.  Never having been personally caught in the abuses of an HOA gone off the rails, and never having litigated property association cases, she forces us to look outside the box we have put ourselves in. Tune in for a slightly different show.                

Listen to Caroline Douglas

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