Regular listeners to On The Commons know that I find the practice of fining a neighbor appalling. However, proponents of this practice will argue that it is the only way to control people’s behavior. I still haven’t figured out why John has the right, authority, or duty to ensure complete and total obedience to stupid rules such as whether or not the grass is mowed correctly? Regardless of how reprehensible, I do have to admit that I find the practice of having someone wandering around with a clipboard in hand, documenting transgressions, no matter how minor, does seem to keep the grass at the approved height and the trashcans out of sight. Perhaps the actual government, state, Federal, and other small governments could adopt the HOA M.O. to prevent car thefts, break-ins, and other real crimes. Maybe if all the real criminals were fined and foreclosed on, they would not have anywhere to stash their loot.
Bill Davis joins us in a brand new show On The Commons this week. Bill takes us behind the scenes and explains how very easily and quickly homeowners find their homes being auctioned off at a foreclosure sale on the courthouse steps. Actual governments should have it so good. Please tune in and listen to Bill explain it all.
This show is a rebroadcast, but it is just as valid and timely today.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – that is to have succeeded.”
Do you suppose Ralph was thinking about homeowner associations and the many petty municipal governments around with ridiculous rules, ordinances, and abusive enforcement mechanisms when he wrote that? His message seems to have fallen on deaf ears because these entities continue to make life miserable for their members and constituents.
Fortunately, more individuals are doing amazing things to make the world a better place, not for just one person but hundreds of people, despite their local governments.
Joining us On The Commons this week is Jason Helvenston. Jason and his wife, Jennifer, wanted to grow their food, but edible plants tend to require sun, and the sun happened to be in their front yard, so that’s where they planted their herbs and vegetables. However, the city council of Orlando, Florida, thought that grass would look normal, and so they did what petty governments do so well, they issued an ultimatum, “plant grass or else… we will fine you $500 a day!”. The Helverstons believe in protecting their right to plant whatever they want on their property, so they fought back, and they WON! You’ll have to listen to their story to realize that their garden is only the first step to opening our eyes and how they are making so many people “breathe easier.”
A home is a necessity although, the type of home can be the stuff of which dreams are made. So many people fantasize about the size, the style, the location of the house they hope to live in with their loved ones. They imagine the furniture, the number, and the size of the rooms they will have. Once they have visualized the house, they work on making their dream a reality. Bit by bit, they save money and assemble all the bits they will need to build the home of their dreams. But what happens once they make their dream home a reality. What happens if that home happens to be part of a mandatory membership residential association?
Nila Ridings joins us On The Commons and tells us about her home. In her case, her dream home, a townhouse, happened to be in a homeowners association. It was perfect for her as her monthly dues covered some outdoor maintenance she didn’t feel able to handle herself. She paid her dues diligently, but the maintenance she was paying for was never performed. The HOA’s negligence caused some severe problems. Nila then did the one thing a homeowner should never do, but it is the only thing they feel is within their control — she withheld her dues. If she is paying to have specific jobs done and the association is not performing its part, it makes perfect sense not to pay the dues. But the association has the ultimate power over the homeowners, and in this case, they exercised their power. What happened to Nila should never have happened, but sadly it happens too often. The courts were no help at all.
Please listen to Nila’s story, do not withhold your assessments, and if you want to make any legislative changes, start by making the associations more accountable to their members by performing the jobs they are paid to perform. Currently, it doesn’t appear there is any requirement for them to perform the jobs they are paid to do. Oh, I can hear the screams. Tune in to hear Nila’s story.
We are still on our quest to learn what new bills they are proposing across the country. None of the ones we have come across really help homeowners. Fortunately, some homeowners read the bills closely and take the time to comment on them, and then they show up to testify either for or against them. So this week, we get to meet a new Warrior in the fight.
Nancy Kozanecki joins us On The Commons. I heard a lot about Nancy and finally got to meet her on this edition of On The Commons. Nancy is the new director for HOA Reform Coalition of Texas and has been working with Beanie Adolph for awhile. She joins us to talk about legislation proposed by CAI in Texas. When I asked her to join us and tell us about the bills in question, she said, “Oh, they are gone.” She and David Kahn did a great job in Austin. No bad bills left loitering the halls of The Texas State Capitol.
She was gracious enough to come on to discuss the bills. Some were quite funny – only something an industry member would come up with. However, we do need to know them so we can watch out for them next year but rest assured, while they may be history in Texas, they might pop up in your state. After all, they can’t let a bad bill go to waste, can they?
Tune in, meet Nancy, enjoy the show, and you heard her, she said she would be back so stay tuned.