Deborah Goonan

It is one of the most beautiful times of the year when people seem to be filled with good cheer and love for their fellow man and woman.  To celebrate that their good cheer, they go out of their way to deck their homes with wreaths and lights and all kinds of outdoor decorations.  It is the time of year when families either walk around their neighborhoods enjoying the decorations or, with children’s faces in wide eyed wonder, drive through other neighborhoods oohing and aahing over the decorations.  But it is also the time of year for the grinch to rear its ugly head, especially where these Christmas decorations are in a homeowners association. We all know that we can’t have fun in a residential association, don’t we?

Deborah Goonan joins us On The Commons.  Deborah is the creator and host of the amazing and much read blog called Independent American Communities. where all the latest HOA stories can be found.  And as can be expected stories about Christmas and other holiday lights and decorations are coming under fire by the HOA grinches right about now.  Not only are people’s holidays being ruined by the HOA self anointed Supreme Neighbors who think they have a right to dictate who, what, how, where and when residential America may celebrate the holidays but in the process may be ruining fundraising efforts for needy charities.  For one such story (with a happy ending) check this out.  And of course the UBER grinch (CAI) to the rescue with their “guidelines” on when, where, how, how many, what color, etc, etc, etc. Is it any wonder that more and more housing consumers are listing NO HOA in their list of must have’s when house hunting?  Ho Ho Ho.

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Sam and Maria Farran

Sam and Maria Farran

Have you noticed how all sense flies out the window when an involuntary membership homeowners association is involved?  All of a sudden we fear anything that is not part of that uniform look and feel of a kontrolled kommunity.  A different shade of blah can topple an entire neighborhood, an unapproved garden hose, dusty mailboxes, flags, rose bushes and pudgy pooches are all a threat to property values.  An addition that doesn’t quite konform to the existing architectural guidelines will no doubt turn the neighborhood green with envy.

Oh, get real!

Joining us On The Commons this week are  Maria and Sam Farran.  The Farrans  weren’t about to believe all the nonsense they were told.  They did their homework, knew the rules and the laws and decided to fight back.  After years of court room drama, they won their cases and were awarded attorney fees and court costs.  However, there was a snag. You see, in the process,  their HOA ran out of money and went bankrupt.  But there is a happy ending after all. As Maria says; “We used to be a corporation that ran a neighborhood, we are now a neighborhood that runs a corporation”. I won’t ruin it for you so tune in and find out how they got their money and what happened to the association.  You’ll love it.How did they do it?  Well, look for their new and improved governing documents On The Commons and yes, you may use them as a template if you too want to return common sense and a sense of community to your neighborhood.

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Larry Murphree

Larry Murphree

“Home is the starting place of love, hope and dreams” it is also a place to be safe and express our own personalities. A nd “home is where our story begins” or perhaps, where it continues today. 

Larry Murphree joins us On The Commons.  Larry, an Air Force veteran, who, like all the other veterans, laid his life on the line to protect the country and the flag that  he so loves .  Not a terribly difficult concept to understand, is it?  In fact it is a lot easier to comprehend than the complex and convoluted concept of a private home being forced into a residential association that is subject to the whims, thuggery and control of the others. 

And Larry’s home is where Larry’s story begins. To show his love for his country and for his fellow troops that he shares so much with, 7 years ago Larry put a small flag in his flowerpot on his porch.  As you may know, flags and pink flamingos anywhere in an HOA controlled property is  somewhat akin to waving a red flag in front of a bull.  The reaction from the association is as swift, brutal and often  as violent as that of a massive charging bull – except unlike a dumb bull, HOAs know exactly what they are doing, and Larry’s HOA was no exception. First came the violation letter, “There is an unapproved object in your flowerpot” followed by the threats then the fines and the misdirected assessments, the name calling, the public shaming, and of course the never-ending nitpicking, harassment and abuse, liens and foreclosure.  All this has been going on for over 7 years and instead of finally stopping, it continues.  Larry’s next court date is next week.  

Isn’t it time America woke up and realized that HOAs are doing more harm than good?  It is time to pull the plug on HOAs.  Time to go back to private property being truly private and home being the place where families and loved ones are allowed to be themselves, where love, hope and dreams live.

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John Cowherd

John Cowherd

Americans always took such great pride in the personal freedoms guaranteed them in the constitution.  While the founders maintained that these rights were God given and always belonged to the people, the Constitution ensured that the government could not remove them.  Probably the 1st Amendment, protecting the right to free speech, is best known yet there seems to be a concerted effort to strip Americans of this right.  Much like Pavlov’s dogs we are being trained to limit our freedom of speech little by little.  There are many ways this is being done but probably one of the most blatant is moving entire segments of the population into controlled environments where we are told we “agreed” to give up our rights.

John Cowherd joins us On The Commons.  John is an attorney in Northern Virginia, who is not only knowledgeable in HOA law, but is one of a handful of attorneys who does  represent homeowners.   He maintains a blog called Words of Conveyance and recently blogged about Brindley v. City of Memphis and he joins us to discuss this case.  We’ll talk to John about Brindley whose right to free speech was curtailed in a property owners association and why he sued the city and the police department and not the association and won. 

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Jonathan Friedrich

Jonathan Friedrich

First you scare them, then you promise to protect them and then you own them.  Once that is accomplished, perpetrating the biggest consumer scam is a piece of cake.  Buying a few state legislators’ assistance, creating a very lucrative stream of “free” income for the municipalities, paving the way for developers to increase their profit margins exponentially seals the deal.  And that is how simple it has been to force housing consumers into HOAs where they can be robbed of their homes, their wealth and health and their peace of mind.  The lies that have been repeated over the decades to scare prospective homeowners appear to have become universally accepted truths.  After all, if you keep hearing the same thing over and over again, if must be true, right?  However, the one thing that is true is that non HOA controlled housing is almost nonexistent in most of the country.  So being told that the house you are buying is in a mandatory membership homeowner association is no surprise. 

Jonathan Friedrich joins us On The Commons.  When he retired, Jonathan left New York in search of lower property taxes and moved to Las Vegas, Nevada where he bought a house that needed a lot of work.  He rolled up his sleeves and got to work.  When he bought the house he was given an HOA disclosure package which contained a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions commonly known as CC&Rs.  Jonathan’s concern was getting away from crippling property taxes and not so much HOAs.  His focus was fixing the house he had just bought and making it habitable. He also became involved in his new community.  And that’s when the imperfections of his association and association living in general started rising to the top. He dealt with all the usual insanity that seems to go along with HOAs which not so surprisingly led to the court house.  After 5 long years in court, Jonathan won his case.  But as the saying goes, the devil is in the details and to truly appreciate the win one has to hear the details of his story, in his own words.  The twists, the turns, the lies, the misrepresentations made along the way should alert consumers of what to look for and where to look when buying a house.  There may be more to come as Jonathan is not finished cleaning up the mess. Stay tuned.    

Jonathan also has a web page HOA Corruption – Check it out.

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