Mike Gingrich

“Are you crazy?  If people knew what they were buying, they’d never buy a house in an HOA”.  That was the answer I got from a member of the HOA industry when I asked why housing consumers were not told the truth about what buying a house in an HOA entailed.  No more real words were ever spoken.  The road to an HOA or condo controlled dwelling is, by necessity, paved with lies.  So it is back to the good old “Caveat emptor,” or buyer beware philosophy.  That’s all well and good, but until relatively recently, information that is necessary for the consumer or homeowner to be able to ask the right questions or make an educated decision has been scarce. There is a lot of information for associations, and for the people who feed at he HOA trough but precious little for the person who will be funding the contents of that trough. You, the HOA homeowner.

Michael Gingrich joins us On The Commons this week.  Mike has a background in psychology and learned all about HOAs like most of us, up close and personal, he lived in one.  There is something about having to deal with all the problems and issues that are a part of almost every HOA that compels you to do your homework.  Mike was no exception.  In the process of doing his research and meeting others who found themselves in pretty much the same boat, Mike and his colleagues put together a pretty comprehensive web site called HOAs Harm .  Mike talks about the website and explains why they put it together.   You’ll want to check out the website and tune in to the show to get more information. You won’t want to miss it.

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Jan Bergemann

Jan Bergemann
Jan Bergemann

The story goes that any homeowner in a mandatory membership homeowners’ association who is behind in their dues is inherently bad, they don’t want to pay their fair share and deserve to be kicked out. That’s the story the HOA industry lobbyists tell state legislators when lobbying for increased power for the HOA and the industry.  They paint a picture of these horrible freeloaders who think nothing of living off their neighbors. “It’s NOT FAIR” they cry. If there was even a grain of truth to any of that, it would be reason enough to pull the plug on a housing concept doomed to fail but instead the people caught in the trap are called every name under the sun and demonized.  

The story goes that any homeowner in a mandatory membership homeowners’ association who is behind in their dues is inherently bad, they don’t want to pay their fair share and deserve to be kicked out. That’s the story the HOA industry lobbyists tell state legislators when lobbying for increased power for the HOA and the industry.  They paint a picture of these horrible freeloaders who think nothing of living off their neighbors. “It’s NOT FAIR” they cry. If there was even a grain of truth to any of that, it would be reason enough to pull the plug on a housing concept doomed to fail but instead the people caught in the trap are called every name under the sun and demonized.  

But let’s take a look at the Florida family who live in Nottingham Harbor in Jackson Florida to get a real picture of what really goes on in HOA land.  

Chris and Robin Rolling bought a house in Nottingham Harbor to live and raise their seven children.  Robin as a petty officer in the navy and her husband Chris, like so many people recently lost his job and his income.  Robin was the family’s sole financial supporter for a time.  The predictable happened, with less income they had to decide on what is more important, feeding their 7 children or feeding the coffers of the over bloated HOA legal team.  They made the same choice all of us would have made under the same circumstances and they fell behind in their HOA dues by $800.  They proposed a payment plan which was rejected by the association so that the debt with penalties, interest and HOA ATTORNEY FEES soared to $5, 800.  That is a $5000 increase!nThere were still 7 kids that needed to be fed but now the “community” decided to bury them even deeper.

Jan Bergemann Joins us On The Commons.  Jan is the founder and president of the Florida based Cyber Citizens for Justice  a grassroots homeowner friendly group that seems to do as much good as CAI manages to do harm.  CCFJ heard about the Rollings and decided to prevent the foreclosure of their home. We’ll talk to Jan and find out just how CCFJ managed to help the Rollings and keep the family of 9 in their home.   The HOA got their back dues plus a whole lot more.  I ask myself exactly who are the freeloaders in this story.  Tune in and I am confident you will reach the same conclusion I did.

Listen to Jan Bergemann

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Nila Ridings

Nila Ridings

For decades there has been a concerted effort nationwide by homeowners, and some legislators, to ensure proper and adequate disclosures of exactly what owning an HOA controlled home entails. One of the biggest pitfalls, as I see it, is that the message is missing the target by a wide margin.  While a place to live is a necessity, we all need shelter and a safe place to live, raise our families and nourish our soles, buying a house is an emotional purchase.  Once a potential buyer has approved the curbside appeal of a house and goes through the front door, they either hate the paint color in the entry, (an easy fix) and turn tail and head right back out, or they start to visualize themselves having breakfast at the kitchen bar, reading a book by the fireplace, enjoying the views from the living room windows and they start to fall in love with their vision of what living in this house would be like.  Informing them that there is an HOA that will “protect them from red doors in their neighborhood will not force them to remove their rose colored glasses.  The sale pitch is emotional so asking them to dig a little deeper is not going to be terribly productive.  How do we find a common language?

Nila Ridings joins us On The Commons.  Nila, an advocate for protecting housing consumers from falling into the HOA trap shares with us her personal nightmare.  In fact Nila was warned by her dad who was a builder, NOT to buy a house that is subject to a mandatory membership HOA.  But then she fell in love with a house.  It had so many lovely features, lots of promises and pots of dreams so just how bad could it be?  She dumped her lifesavings and her inheritance that she got from her father into buying her dream house.  And then she found out just how bad it not only can be, but is.   Tune in and hear Nila’s story and how, despite her unwillingness to pass on her nightmare to anyone else, another buyer, despite being warned, is in the hot seat of her HOA. 

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Carolyn George

Carolyn George

As Americans we like to think of ourselves as being a  free people, able to come and go as we please, live how and where we like, spend time with our friends and neighbors, watch the TV shows and movies that interest us and read the books we want to read.  But things they are a changing.  And if you are a regular listener of our show, On The Commons  and reader of this web page you would be guessing now that I would be talking about the choices and liberties that have been taken from us in regards to our homes, our color choices, the plants in our gardens, the birdbaths and the bird feeders on our private grounds, and all the other little details that make our homes uniquely ours.  And you would be right.  But it is getting worse.  What if I were to tell you that “they” (whoever “THEY” are) are also after your intellectual and possibly even recreational growth?  Nah, that can’t be possible, can it?

Caroline George joins us On The commons.  Many of my listeners will remember Caroline’s past visits as many people have taken the time to comment on her shows.  You may also remember that Caroline wrote a book titled, The Dark Side of Law, a law treatise on judging.  It is a huge and a hugely heavy book that we have talked about on the show. 

Through her thousands of interviews and reviews of actual court cases she brings the process of going to court down to an easier to understand level and demystifies much of what goes on behind the scenes.  

The book WAS available on Amazon, that’s right, WAS, past tense.  It seems that Amazon decided to BAN the book so you can no longer buy it or read it or get any help from it. Why is Amazon deciding what you can and cannot read?  Who else is involved in making some of your basic and personal decisions for you?  What other books have been banned?  Who is making these decisions and what gives them the right to do so?  Tune in.

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Frank Short

One of the most despicable and abusive practices that has become an acceptable part of the American culture recently is that of fining by residential associations.  Why is the HOA industry so enamored with the power to fine?  Is it really designed to FORCE people to act, live and behave according to some aesthetic plan concocted by the architects of controlled living? Whatever the real reason, it is a punitive measure that strips a person of his or her assets.  A few dollars can soon mushroom to tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars, resulting in the loss of someone’s home.   Proponents of this offensive practice wonder how else one can force compliance by a neighbor.  But is that really what they are concerned about or do they have ulterior motives?  Who benefits?
 
Joining us On The Commons this week is Frank Short.  Frank is an old friend of the show, a personal friend and a lawyer.  And, as only Frank can, he takes us on a historical trip through court cases that have examined fines.  We hear about the issues, the arguments and what the courts at various levels and in different states have ruled.  He packs an hour with a comprehensive and chronological look at fines, the courts and the legislatures.  You will not want to miss it.
 
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