Caroline Douglas

Caroline Douglas

Who is responsible for ensuring our safety on the local roads? Who plans how many stop signs are used on the roads and makes sure pedestrians are safe? Who decides the speed limits and fines and collects the fines when a driver exceeds the speed limit? What happens to that money? If you have never really thought about this and, like me, just presumed everything was being handled responsibly, I believe it is time to rethink that trusting attitude. Maybe it is time for some adult supervision, or we may face a tragic situation.

We recently had an unfortunate and tragic situation in my homeowners’ association, which could and should have been avoided. My neighborhood is divided by a four-lane road with half of the homes on one side and the other half on the other side. The high school that all the kids go to is on the other side of that road, as are all the amenities like the pools and tennis courts. Several years ago, that road was widened from two to four lanes. Someone from the county board of supervisors visited one of our homeowner meetings to inform us that because the situation was too dangerous for a crossing guard, they had to take the crossing guard away, and the kids will have to cross themselves! Every suggestion to ensure the safety of the children was met with an equally stupid reason why that wouldn’t work. They all had to do with their own similarly stupid rules. Thank God we were incident-free for many years, but our lucky streak didn’t last forever. Recently a resident in his 50s was hit while he was crossing in the crosswalk and killed. The driver, a woman in her 30’s, I believe, apparently was not speeding, texting, or driving drunk, but she nonetheless hit and killed the pedestrian, and that is something she will have to live with for the rest of her life. 

Caroline Douglas joins us On The Commons to talk about this incident. As always, Caroline comes up with so many angles and possibilities that I hadn’t thought of or considered. I’m always grateful to her for being a willing guest and providing her knowledge and expertise to us all. Always a pleasure to have you on Caroline. 

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Bill Davis

Your home is your home, or is it?  Weren’t you planning on doing all sorts of things with your new home?  Wouldn’t it be nice if your home could provide a little income for you, instead of being a never-ending source of expenses>  Taxes, a new stove, the water heater stopped heating water, there is the taxman again.  So what do you do/?  Get a new water heater or pay the taxman?  If you do that you will be taking cold showers a lot longer. 

Bill Davis   joins us On The Commons.  Bill is a Texas attorney with his heart in the right.  He believes as passionately as I do in our property rights.  and the right as a homeowner to be able to use your home as you see fit.  But is everything that clear cut or are there other things to consider?  Please tune in, Bill and I have a lively discussion about almost everything that has to do with your right to be in complete charge of your own home. Enjoy your home, make it yours and make sure all your neighbors enjoy the same rights.

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Nyla Ridings

Nyla Ridings

I realize that the hardest lessons to learn are the ones we have not experienced personally. I doubt that anyone will make you perceive
that better than our guest on today’s show.

Nyla Ridings joins us On The Commons this week. I Have said this before and will repeat it, I have never had a problem with my HOA, so I have no personal experience with what it is like being targeted. Having grown up overseas, where all I ever heard was how much freer people in the US were, I was horrified by the restrictions HOAs inflict on the owners of homes in the US. How can that possibly be? Never in my entire life had anyone dared to assert the right to decide what color your shades could be. The sheer gall of it! You have all heard the daily atrocities in American housing, so I won’t go into it here but urge you to tune in to On The Commons and listen to Nyla. Hers is a baptism by fire.

All I can tell you is that Nyla had every reason to turn and run as fast as she could when she was shown a house in an HOA. Her father, a builder/developer had warned her to NEVER, EVER buy in an HOA. She did and now understands her father’s advice. She has spent a lot of time trying to warn people who have reached out to her for help once they got caught in their HOA nightmares. Listen to Nila and save yourselves a lot of heartaches. Nyla speaks from personal experience.

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Carolyn Douglas

Carolyn Douglas

Elder abuse is alive and well in America, either Miss Manners didn’t do a good enough job teaching us the finer skills of manners and respect or we are ignoring them believing they are old-fashioned and therefore best forgotten. But I simply can’t forget or overlook today’s story. I was so infuriated and outraged when I got a call from a friend who lives in a retirement community. It is hard to find much that differs from a homeowners association that we typically deal with here except that they seem to be more expensive and more intrusive and as I discovered more abusive. I know, it is difficult to believe.

AS I listened to my friend, I had images of a college dorm room, not an apartment where one can enjoy the privacy of a personal home, which is what these places are supposed to be. Oh, did I mention they are NOT cheap? I got a call from my friend, very upset because she had been given about three weeks to find another home, she was being evicted. Why was she being evicted? It seems harsh to have an employee decide to strip you of your home with no oversight, no insuring that her Constitutional rights were protected, none of that. There was an incident where a member of the staff showed up and without my friend’s permission stuck a cell phone in her face and started taking pictures of her because her mask was not on her face according to the home’s standards. Considering she had a glass of water in her hand that she was drinking that is not surprising. When this woman with her cell phone appeared in her private space, taking photos and videos, my friend did what any one of us would do when someone invades our private space, we pushed them away. Not sure any reader would just stand there and smile for the camera and allow this to happen to them, at least I certainly hope not. An unintended consequence of all this was that the water in the glass gave our sneaky photographer a shower. Of course, the “bad guy” in all of this has to be my friend, and absolutely no mention is ever made of the employee who started this whole thing. I wonder why? What really, really infuriated me was when the ED told my friend to go to her room and stay there. She was not allowed to go in the common areas, or to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, she had to stay in her room until she left in 3 weeks’ time. Her meals would be sent to her. That is a total violation of her Constitutional rights and is elder abuse. And this woman is in charge of a retirement home?

Caroline Douglas joins us On The Commons. Caroline had the same gut reaction to this story as I did when I told her. Although Caroline is a non-practicing attorney she has a law degree, she remembers the Constitutional protections very well and reaffirms my beliefs and Gut reactions. Tune in and make sure your loved ones don’t fall into the same house of horrors.

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Julio Robaina

Julio Robaina

A common occurrence for newly elected legislators is requesting help from their constituents who are homeowners in mandatory membership Homeowner associations. The stories they hear seem unreal and they have no idea where or how to start or even whether any of it is true. Several years ago one such legislator, Representative JULIO Robaina of FLORIDA set up meetings across Florida, went around the state, and met with the owners to find out what the problems were. The stories he heard repeatedly were the same stories I heard from people around the country. He would then join us On The Commons and tell us about the abuses that were going on. With first-hand information about the issues and ideas from the owners themselves, he sponsored the legislation, which some passed only to be canceled later on but, not all of it. And here we are, years later, the same stories, and abuses continue. At the request of the current legislators, Julio helped draft legislation for this year that was completely ignored by the sitting legislators. This year the focus was on the Surfside condo collapse and how to prevent it from happening again. So once again, nothing will happen.

there will be no real relief for the owners and the people who benefit from this dysfunctional housing concept continue to gain, with no oversight from the government that allows it to continue.

Julio Robaina joins us On the Commons. Please tune in to learn how He is keeping his promise to protect the homeowners.

Listen to Julio Robaina
Surfside condominium collapse photo from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue 1.jpg. This work was created by a government unit of the U.S. state of Florida. It is a public record that was not created by an agency which state law has allowed to claim copyright and is therefore in the public domain in the United States.

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Jan Bergemann

Jan Bergemann

The world watched in horror on on June 24, 2021 as the Surfside condominium tower collapsed as an estimated 1000 men, women and children lost their lives. The world is still trying to come to terms with exactly what happened and what led to the tragedy.  There have been many theories as the what caused the collapse.  There  is evidence that the condo neglected to perform the necessary repairs and to keep the building in good repair.  It is also alleged that the condo was underfunded.  In an effort to prevent a repeat of such a tragedy, legislators, advocates and others with an interest in ensuring that this does not happen again, Several pieces of legislation was written and presented for consideration.  Sadly, despite all the work and the obvious need for some remedies NOTHING was done by the legislators in this session.  Floridians got back with no additional protections thanks.

Jan Bergemann, founder of the very active Florida based Cyber Citizens for Justice joins us On The Commons and explains exactly what happened.  I hope the world is still listening because our legislators really do need to step up and make sure their citizens are protected.  Please tune in.  We will be following this story.

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Frank Short

Covid has changed the way we live and the way we think. Mandatory membership homeowner associations are increasing, it seems that everyone lives in one, so We should attend the meetings to keep up with what the association is doing. Associations usually have regular meetings, but Zoom and similar programs have come to the rescue. 

Frank Short joins us this week On The Commons for his St Patrick’s Day show. It was slim pickings in the Virginia Legislature this year but Senate Bill 696 sponsored by Senator Chap Peterson did give us one bill to talk about. One thing worth noting is that even the bills need tweaking. So tune in to this St Patrick’s day show.

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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.

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Bill Davis

Rumor has it that people who buy property in a homeowners association know exactly what they are getting.  We are told by the industry that we all agreed to it.  That sounds good.  So why are there so many problems and so many lawsuits if we are all on the same page?  Could the problem be that we don’t all speak the same language?  Or is that too simple an explanation?

Bill Davis.  a Texas attorney has made representing homeowners in HOAs a focus of his legal practice.  That is very fortunate for all of us because he is always willing to educate us and explain some of the twists and turns we encounter in  every day life.  Bill joins us On The Commons.  He helps us to untangle the wording in a California case where a homeowner bought a condominium with a right to rent out her unit.  Pretty simple and straight forward.  Well, maybe not, she ended up with words like restrictions and prohibitions to contend with.  So, what did she agree to?  And who decided to muddle things up by using all these words to change the meaning of the rights she bought and OWNS.  Tune in and see if you are clear on the rights you own.

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Jan Bergemann

Jan Bergemann

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, or so the saying goes.   When over half of all marriages end in divorce, and the two people in that relationship choose each other and opted to live together what makes anyone think any plan that puts a group of strangers together and expects them to live harmoniously will work flawlessly?  Not surprisingly, it really doesn’t.  The whole concept of mandatory membership homeowners associations is flawed yet we still try to fit all the pieces together and make it all work.  It just doesn’t work.  I have news for you, I don’t think it ever will.

The real reason HOAs were conceived, was to provide local municipal governments with free tax dollars.    And as free tax dollars to the local government, it works brilliantly.  All homeowners pay property taxes to the local municipality.  Those tax dollars were initially intended to cover the cost of street lights, trash removal, street maintenance, and snow removal where needed, however, where there are associations of any kind, the owners pay an additional fee to the association to cover the cost of these services so the owners are double taxed.  The municipality just gets richer, the homeowners foot the bill.   and apparently peace and quiet and pure joy are still a fantasy.

Jan Bergeman, President, and founder of the Florida-based CyberCitizens for Justice, a frequent guest, a staunch and active advocate for owners, joins us On The Commons.  Jan brings us up to date on the latest news of the tragic condo collapse.  We will learn about new regulations that would ensure there will be no repeat performances.  And for those of you asking about an ombudsman, the idea is not off the table and we will hopefully learn more in a follow-up show as well.  But don’t miss this show, there is a lot of good information here.  Thanks for tuning in.

Lisen to Jan Bergmann

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News and Views About Homeowner Associations