Category Archives: Homeowner Meetings

Janice Fontell

Have you heard the one about homeowner associations being democracy “up close and personal”?  The story goes that members are expected to participate in meetings, voice their opinions and to be part of the “community” which includes being financially responsible for common expenses.  So it only stands to reason that one should be entitled to an explanation of any increases.  But what happens when a member asks a simple question about a dues increase?

On this show we will start at that point – a very small dues increase and when an explanation was asked for the name calling, finger pointing and suppressing information started.  When a simple answer to a simple question is not forthcoming and creates such acrimony, something is wrong.  So when a situation doesn’t pass the smell test it is prudent to dig a little deeper especially when your most valuable asset, your home, is at stake.

But that is easier said then done.

On the Commons with us this week we are joined by Janice Fontell.  Janice is an accountant by trade and she bought into the notion of “carefree living” that her condo promised.  She paid her dues and minded her own business.  Join us as we follow her incredible journey into homeownership, her awakening and subsequent education into what HOA living really is all about.  But that is only the beginning because she found herself learning all about the law and her way around court where she ultimately prevailed – in part 1.  You will want to hear this part of her story.  There is another case pending and we hope to catch up with Janice later on.

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Billy Martin

Proponents of homeowner associations would have us believe that HOAs are “democracy up close and personal”.  They insist the owners have more control over the neighborhood than they otherwise would and being neighbors, the leadership would be of the kinder, gentler variety than the further removed, less personal municipal government could provide. They’ve got part of it right, anyway.  HOAs can be extremely  “up close and personal” and that is not a good thing.  As for democracy,  it is almost nonexistent in kontrolled kommunities around the country.  

Neighbors and community members can be a little too close for comfort when it comes to providing any kind of governance that is needed to run a development.  Personality clashes, personal feelings and long standing friendships/animosities are more than likely to interfere with any requirement for fair dealing.  This lack of neutrality and imbalance of power can make life inside the borders of associations a living hell.

Joining us On The Commons this week is Billy Martin.  Billy lives in a townhouse development in Houston, Texas where his first battle with the HOA was over a flag. The issue wasn’t whether or not he had the right to fly the flag but a dispute over the placement of the flag.  It went to court and Billy won.  The judge agreed that the flag was on private property and not HOA controlled property.  That, however, is not the end of the story.  What happened next is terrifying. (See News Story) We will talk to Billy and find out what he discovered when he came home from a trip and found his house had been vandalized.

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