The founders realized that in order to establish a government among men they would have to obtain the consent of the governed. In other words, in order to govern a group of people one needs their permission. So where and how did we go off the straight and narrow when it comes to getting the “consent of the governed” in the millions of residential associations in the US? What I find bewildering is that while the “governed” in HOAs and condos far outnumber the “governors”, they do not face much resistance.
Julio Robaina joins us On The Commons. Julio, a former state of Florida Representative spent time traveling around the state, holding hearings trying to understand the extent of the problems and the reason for the discontent in Floridas HOAs and condominiums. He listened to the owners’ stories and their ideas and suggestions of how to “fix” the problems. Once educated on the issues and armed with information, he drafted his bills designed to protect the rights of the homeowners residential associations. He now co-owns a management company so he is still very much involved. We talk to Julio about what he learned and whether the laws and protections put in place by him several years ago are still enforced now.
When trying to decipher the issues and problems with personal rights and private property rights, I often feel overwhelmed. There are just so many ways all our rights are stripped that trying to track them all is a bit like what I imagine drinking from a fire hydrant would feel like. At the very least you get soaked, breathing would be extremely difficult and it is questionable just how much you actually manage to drink. And that is exactly how I feel when dealing with these issues. The micromanagement from all levels of the real governments, their omnipotent NGOs and the lowly first rung petty dictators in your local HOA is unbelievable. There is no end to the rules, laws, regulations, ordinances, covenants designed to control almost every aspect of your life.
Tom DeWeese joins us On The Commons. Tom is the founder and president of the Virginia based American Policy Center and the editor of The DeWeese Report. He is an author, a speaker, an advocate, an activist and, with several decades of studying the master manipulators and the property robbers worldwide, a font of knowledge. He is passionate about what he does and with a well-organized and easy to follow narrative manages to fit in many missing pieces to the jigsaw puzzle the rest of us are trying to solve. He zooms his lens out and looks at the big picture and then easily slips the puzzle pieces in place, before zooming back in and bringing the picture into focus. I always learn so much when I spend some time listening to Tom. By the way, did I mention he is also a very nice person and fun to talk to? He is. You’ll want to tune in.
It is getting almost impossible to get through an entire day without being accosted by bad news. Sometimes there really is nothing we can do about it. Natural disasters are out of our hands. Try stopping a tsunami, a hurricane or an earthquake. You can’t. Chances of people losing their homes in any of those scenarios are pretty good. But other “disasters” are preventable. I am thinking of the seemingly daily reports of condo and homeowner association fraud, embezzlement, theft, mismanagement and abuse that can also result in the loss of peoples’ homes. These are man made disasters, enabled by the government. Instead of protecting their constituents against these wrongdoings, or redesigning the HOA and condo concept structurally to prevent the abuses, they mandate them and turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the problems. They facetiously mock you for having “agreed” to the “rules”.
Jose Pazos joins us On The Commons. Jose, an award winning community manager in Florida, is not cut from the same cloth as many of his colleagues throughout the country. Jose and his business partners, own a management company with a difference. Transparency and accessibility seem to be high on their list of ” must haves” for their homeowner clients. We’ll find out how they do that. (it really is quite simple). We talk about laws that are unique to Florida and how those laws enable the taking of private units from their rightful owners. We will also find out about the many ways owners and associations are robbed and swindled out of their assets and rights. We’ll hear all about his idea for a condo fraud task force, how it would work and how it would be funded. We also find out why he considers himself the “condo police”. In his spare time, Jose also maintains a web page called Condo Receiver. If more people in the condo and HOA business had the integrity and honesty of Jose, we might actually get through a day every now and again with having to read about bad news.
Have you heard the one about homeowner associations being “democracy, up close and personal”? How about homeowners in HOAs are better able to influence their immediate neighborhoods than their counterparts who live in the real world? And one of my all time favorites, “If you don’t like the rules, you can change them.” See, there is absolutely nothing to worry about, it is all oh so very civilized.
Or is it?
Some Texas homeowners actually believed all that jazz. They thought they had a say in their neighborhood and decided bans on fences or fence heights to preserve the view of a nonexistent golf course made no sense. So, they did what any concerned person would do, they tried to amend the governing documents to change outdated, restrictions and pave the way for a more friendly place to live.
Joining us On The Commons this week is Bill Davis. Bill, a Texas attorney, represents homeowners who find themselves having to protect their rights and their homes from the associations they have the misfortune of belonging to. We’ll talk to Bill about a particular association and find out why, as a “legal formality” the association sued 120 members who signed a petition to amend the governing docs. We’ll also talk about some of the “games” attorneys and associations play to circumvent the rules, and in some cases, the laws.