“I bet you have never heard this one, Shu. Let me tell you what my HOA is doing to me. ”
Welcome to housing American style because as shocked as they are when they reach out to me, their story is not as uncommon as they think.
Even though I thought I had heard it all, a few years ago one listener from Florida managed to educate me on just how bad things really are. She was a single mother of an infant who was being forced out of the condo she owned. Yes she would get paid less than market value for it and what she would get was nowhere near enough to help her find another home. In essence, she and her baby were on their way to being homeless. She introduced me to the practice of condo terminations and bulk buyers to explain how this was being done.
John Cowherd joins me On The Commons . John, a frequent guest On The Commons, is an attorney in Northern Virginia who represents the homeowners in litigation and disputes against their residential and commercial associations. He also maintains a blog called Words of Conveyance I am always grateful to John for keeping me in the loop of what is going on in the courts as well as the legislature in Virginia and for coming on to inform our listeners about it all. We talk to John about HB 1548, a Virginia bill introduced and sponsored by Delegate Marcus R. Simon. This bill appears to be flying through all the committees and chambers in Richmond, on its way to becoming law much too quickly. What this law would do is strip the owners of rights and protections they have as condo owners making it so much easier for developers and investors to profit financially, leaving them much poorer than they were before getting involved in a condo. So much for protecting property values. As my mother always said, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
In the land of the free and the brave, the brave are having a hard time being free in their HOA controlled homes. In some associations there is always someone willing to inspect private property, searching for any perceived violation no matter how ridiculous. Almost a decade ago one of the condo spies spied a flag, a small flag, a really small flag in a flowerpot on the front porch of a homeowner, and they were off and running. The violation notices and threat letters started arriving in the mailbox, followed by fines and expensive legal warnings from the HOA attorneys. Yes, you know who they are. When will they stop harassing and abusing Americans, especially veterans, for flying a flag? When will we realize that there are serious health issues associated with living under an HOA microscope and all the associated stress? When will this insanity stop?
Larry Murphree joins us On The Commons. Larry committed the ultimate sin by placing a small US flag in his flower pot on his front porch. Sweetwater condo association was quick to let him know that there was “an unapproved object in his flower pot”. As you can imagine, Larry was rightly offended. His flag was NOT an “unapproved object”. We talk to Larry about his life in Sweetwater Condo, the constant harassment, the abuse, the nitpicking and the pettiness and the sheer stupidity that is part and parcel of a bad HOA. There are a lot of really funny stories about life in his petty association in general. And then we learn about his current home. Tune in for some great giggles, then on Monday, February 24th head on over to Duval County Court House at 9 AM for what we hope will be his final hearing. Go and support him. Remember, there is strength in numbers.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
As you can see, contrary to popular belief the Bill of rights does not give us certain rights. The Founders recognized that these were God given rights and sought to prohibit government from taking them away. Little did they know that “Congress”, in all its wisdom would find a way of empowering a fake government, aka a residential association where these rights would be trampled on at will. The explanation is that by owning a home you “agreed” to forfeit your
Constitutionally protected rights. NO, you did not.
Jan Bergemann joins us On The Commons. Jan is the founder and President of the Florida based Cyber Citizens for Justice An outspoken, no nonsense advocate for individual rights, he has worked tirelessly to provide some common sense in an otherwise corrupt system. We talk to Jan about the state of controlled housing in Florida and especially about a bill making its way through the Florida Legislature granting Floridians their God given rights. I know, it sounds absurd, doesn’t it? But having empowered associations with extraordinary powers, the legislators are trying to reign them in, just a tiny little bit. It’s a start. Join Jan and me for a lively discussion of this new bill and how, when passed, will reaffirm constitutionally protected rights.
As Americans, we like to think of ourselves as being the freest people in the world. And we are – or perhaps we were. Gradually over the years American homeowners have been conned into believing they have given up some of those rights if that house is in a homeowner association. Other times they have been misled into believing they never had any rights in the first place. Bundled up in all of our rights we have what are often referred to as “natural rights” also inalienable rights. These are rights that Belong to us and cannot be taken away. Some of these rights are enshrined in the Bill of Rights. The first of those rights is included in the 1st Amendment. It guarantees the right of free expression, including freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, religion and speech. Nowhere in the Constitution did I find an exception for Homeowner associations. What a shocker!
Deborah Goonan joins us On The Commons. Deborah writes a blog called Independent American Communities and has become a walking encyclopedia of all the problems in HOAs across the country. She has recently been following a troubling trend of HOAs stripping owners of their right to free speech part of the protections of the First Amendment. We talk about Val Vista Lakes HOA in Gilbert Arizona whereThe association was threatening the residents with $250/day fines for exercising their right to free speech. Find out why. Check out Independent American Communities and do tune in to the show.
Residential America has changed dramatically over the last 50 years. Gone are the days when housing consumers bought a house or a plot of land and were lords of their mansions, kings or queens of their castles, where their word was law – within the confines of their property, of course. Increasingly living in residential America is more complicated, more restrictive and more expensive. Do American homeowners know and understand how and why their lives and homes have changed?
Donna Fossum joins us On The Commons. Donna is an attorney, a long time resident and condo owner in the City of Alexandria, Virginia. She was a senior policy analyst at the Rand Corporation, a former member of the Alexandria Planning Commission and a one time candidate for City Council. Donna, with her analytical background, has written the most comprehensive and complete report on the changing residential communities. After a lot of research, Donna discovers what is essentially two cities in one, divided more or less equally by the east side and the west side of the City of Alexandria. She explains how this shift resulted in double taxation for approximately half of the homeowners in Alexandria. But probably one of the most eye opening discoveries she made was the differences in the political process and participation by the citizens of the two different halves of the city. Tune in and hear her talk about all the issues that significantly affect the way we live in America today and read her report, Fossum Files . While her research and analysis centered on Alexandria, the same issues and resulting problems exist across the country.