Rana Kahl

On The Commons


 With my apologies as I am still having issues and problems with Constant Contact.  Maybe 2022 will be the year we can get it fixed.  I am keeping my fingers crossed.  And on that note, I am Wishing you all a very happy New Year.

I would also like to thank Rana for helping me tell this particular story.  It is one I feel that needs to be told.  You will get the details when you listen to us talk.  

Regardless of where your home is it is not safe from abuse.  While we have concentrates primarily on the abuses in Homeowner associations and condominiums, it has been brought to our attention that seniors, in retirements communities are also being subjected to some of the same issues as homeowners in the aforementioned housing situations.  In fact it is even worse in some retirement communities.  

Let me start off by assuring you that I hear from friends and acquaintances in retirement communities who are extremely satisfied and thankful to be where they are.  Sadly not all of them are gems.  I heard from an 83 year old lady recently and her story made me so mad that I had to cover it.  

First of all I can’t think of a single reason to be rude to an elderly person. Manners are sadly lacking and they were non existent in this case.  The lady is question has been a resident of this particular retirement community for a couple of years, all without apparent incident, until recently.  Because of Covid, like many others established mask rules.  And as expected everyone has become an expert of how to properly wear a mask, including the concierge.  

The way I understand the sequence of events, one morning the concierge decided the 83 year old client was not wearing her mask according to the “rules.”  Oh. Don’t you just love those words?  So she followed her and took photos or videos of her.  Of course this entailed invading her private space (you know, inches from her face).  

The 83 year old did what we ALL should have done and would have done, she defended her space.  She had a glass of water in her hand and threw it at the concierge.  World war 3 broke out, the police were called and the Executive Director decided to kick the customer out, she gave her 3 weeks to get out and find somewhere else to live.  But that’s not all, she then told the lady in question to go up to her room and not come out until she leaves.  

This translates to being incarcerated in her room for 3 weeks, she may not go out for meals, be in the common areas, see or talk to anyone. I was absolutely livid when I heard that.  First of all I don’t believe this draconian dingbat has the authority to treat seniors like that and IF she does there needs to be a serious overhaul of the laws. 

Rana Kahl, who also stumbled into this story with me and shares my feelings and ideas, joins us On The Commons this week. Shu has a slightly different thought on it, a very valid one.  I, on the other hand think anyone getting a job involving the elderly need to take etiquette classes, if they were ever taught any manners they forgot it.  I was shocked at just how expensive these retirement communities are.  They are the clients, no client should be treated that way.  As I already said, I don’t believe they all operate that way but we need to be aware of what could happen.  We may have friends and family in one of these places who is treated like a child and punished by being incarcerated in isolation in their room.  Know your rights, DEFEND your rights and don’t let anyone abuse you or anyone else. 

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Shelly Marshall

If people knew what they were getting into, would they still buy in an HOA?  I was convinced that they wouldn’t, but I was wrong. Thirty years ago when I first became aware of HOAs and started to understand what we were dealing with, HOA mandates were already in place in Fairfax County and probably across the country as well.  However, there were still pockets of older neighborhoods so some choices still existed.  Now, even most of those older neighborhoods have been razed to the ground only to be replaced by some new faddish fantasy that will no doubt sound positively utopian but in practice be unworkable.

Shelly Marshall and Michael Marshall, PhD join me On The Commons.  Shelly is an HOA Warrior.  She is a prolific writer of self help books including a book on HOAs, what to look for and how to understand what you are getting into.  Dr. Marshall, Shelly’s brother, is a Psychology Professor and practitioner.  This dynamic duo have combined forces to answer the question; “Why can’t people hear us?”.  Shelly warned Mike about the risks involved in buying a condo and told him to keep looking but that didn’t stop him.  For awhile everything went well until one day when  his utopian dream came crashing down.  So why didn’t he listen?  Why don’t people learn from other people’s stories?  Mike and Shelly, along with Deborah Goonan, are working on a case study, doing some research with the intent of publishing a paper answering this question.  In an easy to understand and simple way, Mike explains the psychology behind human nature.  He and Shelly fill in with facts, stories and typical situations that take place every single day. This is a very exciting piece of research and a fascinating interview.  For all those people who believe that “HOAs are here to stay,” are you listening?

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John Cowherd

John Cowherd

Over the last few decades American homeowners have gradually lost sovereignty over their property.  With every new law,  every new covenant, every new policy our ability to live in our homes as we see fit has been eroded.  With every new policy there is an acceptance that this is the way of the future.  It is “normal” now to have someone else dictate and approve the colors you choose for your house, the plants and flowers you plant, the decorative elements you use, or in fact even if you are ” allowed” to use them, the structures you buy for your children’s play equipment including the colors you use.  The list is endless.  Sometimes I think it is getting to the point where children in kindergarten have more autonomy over their daily lives than do their parents.  

John Cowherd j oins us On The Commons.  John is a Virginia attorney who represents homeowners against their condominiums and homeowner associations. He hosts and maintains  Words of Conveyance   a blog that focuses on property law.  One of the trends he is seeing more of is the growing restrictions on renting one’s home, or even a room, either short term or long term.  He has a recent blog about this not so new issue of contention in America’s controlled residential associations titled  Rental Restrictions in Virginia Condominiums.   While there may be some genuine concerns about rentals, as usual the problems don’t appear to be quite as awful as some people might have you believe. We’ll talk to John and learn more about it.  We will also talk about how the courts rule in cases where the use of free use of property is inhibited.  Fortunately there is some good news there.

Listen to John Cowherd

Tell us your stories  in  your own words 

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Bill Davis

Following the Florida condo collapse, the universal cure seems to be to fund the reserves. Making sure there are adequate funds for the necessary repairs is a no-brainer. I had long advocated funding the reserves but have always been surprised when homeowners quickly informed me that I was wrong. Some even claimed they would prefer a special assessment to take care of any problems. That approach never appealed to me. However, it is important to hear all the concerns. 

Bill Davis joins us today. Bill, a Texas attorney and a frequent guest on On The Commons, sees the big picture and can explain what we are missing. While making sure we fund the reserves, that is only part of the solution. Please tune and take a look at the big picture. It is not always quite as simple as it sounds. Be sure to tune in.

Listen to Bill Davis

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Martha Boneta

It’s time to reflect back on the almost 22 years of On The Commons.  It is Thanksgiving night, the festivities are over with, the kitchen is clean and all is quiet, a perfect time to let my mind wander back to the over 900 shows we have done.  Yes, I say WE, because I didn’t do them on my own- I am so thankful and grateful for the over 900 guests who have joined me, told their stories, explained the laws, talked about the legislation they were proposing, the books they had written, the projects they were working on and the many other issues affecting the place we call home.  Some of their stories have made us extremely angry, others have left us wondering if we heard correctly, some have made us cry and others made us laugh, we have cheered and rejoiced when the homeowner won and we always wished them our very best.  But this show will leave you with so much hope.  You will be energized, excited and anxious to get started. I know   that’s how I felt.

Martha Boneta joins us On The Commons.  Martha owns a small family farm in Northern Virginia.  It has always been her dream to grow food and feed others.  But when she finally got her farm, her dream came with some really nasty surprises.  Not one to roll over and let the bad guys get the best of her, Martha stood her ground and fought back to protect her farm and her rights.  Now she is working on setting up a national grassroots network and invites everyone to join the fight for freedom.  And at the heart of freedom is property rights.  How can freedom exist without the right to own property, whether it is a farm, a mansion or a small condo?  As Martha said, “Now, more than ever, across our nation we need to rise up and answer the call to defend the American Dream.”  You will be excited at her ideas and will agree with much of what she has to say.  You can reach her via her website or by phone, 571-839-1143.  Stay tuned for the official launch of this grassroots movement, scheduled for sometime in January. And when it launches, Martha will be back with details – she promised.  

And this Thanksgiving I am thankful for all of you, all the people who will fight back for justice and freedom and I am really proud to call Martha a friend.  Now you have to tune in, don’t you?

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Julio Robaina

Julio Robaina

Ever since the Surfside condo collapsed in Florida there has been much speculation as to what caused it and what needs to be done to prevent this from happening again.  And predictably, the homeowners themselves were blamed for it.  I have been involved with the policies and politics of HOAs and condos for well over 20 years, but this has always baffled me.  Condos in particular have been sold as “care free living” so why blame the owners who were sold on the idea they didn’t have to do anything?  And they are negligent for not having filled in cracks.  What’s the rationale behind it or were they first in line without a lobby behind them to deflect the accusatory finger pointing at them?  None of the reasons given for the tragedy made any sense to me at all.  I thought we at least needed to know what caused the collapse before we could come up with a way to prevent it from happening again.  Blaming the homeowners because they were not keen on funding repairs on something they no longer owned made no sense to me.  As far as I am concerned it was just more evidence that the HOA and Condo concepts are flawed.  That is a discussion for another time but one we definitely need to have. 

In my experience we never had a vote as to whether we would fund the reserves.  Silly me, I thought all HOAs and condos had to fund the reserves. Apparently that is not the case.  Whoever dreamed this concept up should have ensured that the funds needed to maintain this terrific experiment were always available. 
Julio Robaina joins me On The Commons.  Julio is a former Florida legislator who promised he would always work for the HOA and condo homeowners and he has kept his promise. Even though he is not currently a legislator he is very much involved with drafting legislation to protect the owners from another similar disaster.  I am really excited and impressed with some of the legislation he talked about. Finally some sensible ideas.  I would love to tell you about them but I suggest you tune in and hear Julio explain them.   

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Jonathan Moseley and Carolyn Douglas

Our regular listeners know that we are passionate about protecting our personal rights as well as our property rights. After all, just how free can we be when control of our home is taken away from us? The degree to which we lose personal rights and privileges on a daily basis is staggering. Whoever thought that in the land of the free and the home of the brave that what time you open and close your window blinds is controlled by the neighborhood? Who else in the world has to get permission to park a car on one’s private property? Over the years, we have heard from people who are being fined for decorating their homes for the holidays; Christmas and Easter decorations have come under attack, as have religious symbols of all religions and religious holidays. Flags have grabbed the headlines and been controlled for size, the time they were put up, where they were put and how long they were allowed to stay up. Many of us thought it just could not get worse. Well, ladies and gentlemen, we were wrong. How much worse? Tune in.

Caroline Douglas and Jonathan Moseley join us On The Commons for a lively discussion on the latest. Jonathan is a Virginia attorney licensed in Virginia, the District of Columbia, among other courts. Caroline, a frequent guest On The Commons, has written a book called “The Dark Side a Law Treatise on Judging,” once available on Amazon, but it has been removed and is no longer available because someone apparently at Amazon doesn’t believe you should be able to read it.

Jonathan is representing a Virginia congressional candidate whose FaceBook posts have been censored and removed. Hmm, social media seems to be the latest battleground for our rights. This is something that has to stop and stop right now. We need to be able to communicate and communicate freely. And On The Commons, we do. We talk about social media and the laws protecting tenants from being evicted from their rental properties during the pandemic. The rules designed to protect tenants have expired and have not been renewed YET. They probably will. While this does not apply to home OWNERS, it will affect any HOA homeowner who leases their properties, so you will need to know about it. I learned a lot from these exciting guests. I am looking forward to having them back sometime soon.

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Frank Short

It seems that every year legislators nationwide introduce new legislation regulating our lives, including new homeowner association laws, new condo laws, and all other related laws. I suppose it is no wonder we don’t know what the law is on any given day. Well, this year is no exception; Virginia has a whole set of new laws, introduced by several legislators and signed into law by the Governor. David Bulova sponsored HB1816 detailing how homeowner associations will conduct meetings during the Covid 19 pandemic. I am amazed that we need so much detail for something that seems so simple, but my feelings and thoughts aside, we have a new law regulating how to conduct association meetings are conducted, 

Frank Short, an attorney and old friend of On The Commons, joins us and walks us through all the details and intricacies of conducting homeowner association meetings during the pandemic. You will want to tune in and hear this. 

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Nancy Kozanecki

We would do well to keep KISS in mind when it comes to our homes “Keep it Simple, Stupid.” But we can’t seem to do that, and the problems keep mounting. So when a plumber, an electrician, or a roofer can’t help, who do you call? So many Texans contact our guest, who deals with much messier and more complicated problems than plumbers or roofers. 

Nancy Kozanecki joins us On The Commons.  Nancy took over from Beanie Adolph as the director of the Texas Reform Coalition. By the sounds of things, she is very busy. I enjoyed talking to her and learning from her, and my guess is that you will too. So mark your calendars and be sure to tune in.

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Dr. Gary Solomon

Dr. Gary Solomon

We have all heard horror stories coming out of mandatory membership housing associations. Anything from citations for totally idiotic issues like having dust on the roof — what idiot would think of something like that? But believe it or not, that is an actual “violation.” Of course, the worst ones are when the association fines a member for insane alleged violations and eventually forecloses to take a member’s home away from them. Who will ever forget Wenonah Blevins? Wenonah, the 80-year old widow who, along with her cat, was evicted out of her mortgage-free house and left homeless. The stories are real–they shock and horrify us and grab headlines across the world. “Does that happen in America? I thought you were supposed to be a civilized nation?” Again, an actual conversation I had overseas. But there is a lot more to this. How does this affect us physically, and how about our health?.

Dr. Gary Solomon, a retired psychology professor, joins us On The Commons. Dr. Solomon has studied the effects HOAs have on the homeowners subjected to them and wrote some incredible books and articles about the emotional and physical impact HOA abuses and horrors can have. To better understand what is happening to us, read HOA Syndrome and HOA Crisis. In the meantime, please tune in and listen to him.

Listen to Dr. Solomon

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News and Views About Homeowner Associations