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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Syndromeand HOA Crisis. In the meantime, please tune in and listen to him.
Is it just me, or do you agree that life would be so much easier if we managed to remember to keep things simple? I hope Constant Contact is reading this because their “improvements” have made things much more complicated for me! But that’s not why you are reading this promo; my message has more to do with your life in your own homes and neighborhoods than my frustrations with getting my promo out.
Caroline George joins us in a brand new show today, On The Commons. One of the things I love most about my friend, Caroline, is her ability to clearly and succinctly see the big picture and how she manages to fit the insanity that seems so unique to residential associations into everything else going on around us. Caroline explains just how R.A.s fit into the big picture. We also talk about some of the problems we face and some ideas on handling them without going to court. I share some actual stories to support her thoughts. It is always good to learn from those who went before us and succeeded brilliantly. I have some stories that will make you cheer.
The truth is that none of us has a crystal ball and can’t predict exactly what will happen, but life has taught us that certain pitfalls and dangers lurk around the corner and could cause a lot of problems. One of those problems is not having enough money set aside if the walls come tumbling down around us. In a condominium, it is mandatory that the board ensures that they fully fund the reserves unless they want to impose special assessments to make the necessary repairs to ensure that the buildings are safe and sound. It is inconceivable that the entire building will fail, right? Well, we have just witnessed one of the most horrific disasters that resulted from a condo that shrugged off their responsibility to fund the reserves and also to make the necessary repairs and replacements as they came due. Entire families lost everything they owned. If there is a lesson to be learned here, it is to make sure the condo collects the needed reserves and that we, the members, pay them when they are due. A special assessment will be a lot less convenient at a later date.
They built a condominium where a shared building is owned by a business, managed by a board of directors, and funded by the members. What can go wrong? This arrangement complicates things considerably. The owners are required to comply with decisions made by others whether they like it or not. Unlike a traditional form of ownership, where the buyer buys and owns the building and is solely responsible for the maintenance, the members of the condominium are stuck with the responsibility of paying for any problems. And those problems can be disastrous, as we saw when the Surfside condo collapsed, killing entire families.
Jan Bergemann joins us On The Commons. As many of you know, Jan is the founder and President of the Florida-based Cyber Citizens for Justice. Jan has done a fantastic job at CCFJ and is very knowledgeable about condos and HOAs. He has long advocated for fully funding association reserves. Following the catastrophe at Surfside, he took things one step further. Jan called a town hall meeting with legislators and leaders from all different Florida groups to look at ways to prevent this from happening again. Fortunately for all of us, they recorded the meeting on Youtube and for all to watch. I urge you to take the time to tune in and consider something similar in your state. Here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hotkUUlYqk
Please note that the wrong promo was sent out with this show. We are publishing the same show to this site as is playing on Fairfax Public Access this Saturday.
This show is dedicated to Donie Vanitzian 1950-2017 who was found dead on December 28, 2017. For 16 years Donie wrote a weekly column for the LA Times answering questions for homeowners who were caught in a web with their homeowner associations. In addition to her column, she wrote several books on HOAs. She was a great friend to homeowners who had nowhere else to turn and will be greatly missed.
Over the years we have watched the people in positions of power in residential America come up with some of the dumbest rules and policies governing private property. If they couldn’t have such potentially tragic consequences, annual awards for the dumbest of them might make for a great comedy show. However, judging by the headlines, they don’t need any encouragement. Probably one of the most insane to hit the news lately is the mind bogglingly stupid rule from Auburn Greens Complex HOA in Auburn, California requiring the owners to leave their garage doors open during the day or face a fine of $200. This should be a hard sell for proponents of fines and protecting property values.
Deborah Goonan joins us On The Commons. Deborah blogs on Independent American Communities where no HOA story misses her attention. She is a prolific writer and augments all her posts with additional research and more details thus enriching her posts. She has become a go-to person for all the latest HOA land. I asked Deborah to help us do a round up of some of the idiotic rules that seem to be adding to the stress levels of American homeowners. She had a string of such stories lined up within minutes. We talk about some of them, by no means did we scratch the surface of the sheer insanity that is out there. You will no doubt agree that Condos and HOAs are a failed concept and beyond repair.