It is no secret that homeowners in HOAs are often isolated and bullied by insecure, abusive board members, ignorant managers or people in a pseudo official capacity with delusions of grandeur. The sad fact is that neighbors, afraid of being targeted by the same bullies, tend to distance themselves from the homeowner lest they find themselves in the crosshairs of the association. Because of this dynamic, the bullies get away with it, they live to bully, abuse and harass other people again and again because they can, because there are no checks and balances and no oversight. The homeowner agreed to be abused, didn’t he? So where is the problem?
Dr. Gary Solomon joins us On The Commons this week. Dr. Solomon, a retired professor of psychology noticed problems in his neighborhood. After spending a little time observing his neighbors it dawned on him that things weren’t quite right so he started studying the effect HOAs had on homeowners. That led to his writing a couple of papers, HOA Syndrome and Elder Abuse and more recently he wrote an e-book that is free, is downloadable, it is in audio format as well as video. His book is called HOA: Crisis in America . It will answer many of your questions, get you thinking, make you mad, fascinate you and it will also make you laugh but above all, it will educate you. On the show Dr. Solomon gives advice on where to turn for help if you are feeling stressed out by your HOA. He also gives us a lesson on how to help someone who does seek help from us. Although he is retired he is not one to sit around watching the grass grow and has undertaken a new area to research, “Child Abuse by Proxy”. You’ll just have to tune in to hear what he has to say about it.
A simple concept: Get homeowners to pay for neighborhood infrastructure and municipal services -TWICE – has morphed into a massive costly mess, making life even more complicated, unfair and intolerable. No longer do we live in real communities, where neighbors are friends and can be counted on to be there for each other. Instead the chap next door feels duty bound to spy on neighbors and to report any perceived problem, great or small, real or imagined to the neighborhood Junta. In this brave new world the balance of power is tilted away from the individual and because of the politics involved with associations, individuals in the unenviable position of having to defend themselves are isolated, intimidated and belittled.
Slowly, very slowly, the scales are starting to tip the other way. First there was one, then two, then another one and one more and even more attorneys are beginning to realize that their hearts really are on the side of the homeowners.
John Cowherd joins us On The Commons this week. John is a young attorney who has practiced real estate law in Northern Virginia for about a decade. In his practice he has represented homeowners in HOAs as well as handled other real estate related cases. He is well versed in the Virginia Property Owners and Condo Acts as well as Fair Housing, Fair Debt Collections and other related topics. John is going into practice for himself where the focus of his practice will be on homeowners. We talk about the existing laws that apply to homeowners in associations, we discuss the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act and property values. John also maintains a blog called Words of Conveyance . Check it out, tune in to the show and stand up for your rights and those of your neighbors, because you really don’t have to take it any more.
Confucius said, “The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home”. Given the lack of integrity in residential America and the ill health of our homes, I would say the strength of our nation is in serious jeopardy. We have talked about the health risks of stress on our bodies, the problems with living in leaky, moldy and poorly constructed housing, the financial affects of mismanaged associations, the assault on our individual and private property rights and the absolutely abusive and unfair conditions we are raising our children in. I think it is fair to say we have a lot of problems.
It is time to learn how to deal with all these problems and to find a way out of the abyss so we can start rebuilding our homes and strengthening our nation.
Dave Russell joins us On The Commons this week. Dave is a manager in Arizona who works hard to make sure that the rules in his condo association are adhered to while ensuring that individual and private property rights are respected and not trampled in the process. Dave acknowledges that it can be a delicate balancing act but he assures us that it can be done. He also admits there is precious little adult supervision once an association is developed and sold to real people but he reminds us that we do have some help out there. We talk about at least one Federal law that is designed to protect some of our most vulnerable neighbors – the Fair Housing Act. Dave explains the law, how it relates to the controlled developments, shares some great ideas and tools and tells us about free training and how to file a complaint if necessary. This won’t fix all the problems with the HOA concept but if it makes inroads into augmenting the integrity of our homes, we might help strengthen our nation as well.
Homeownership was once described as the “American Dream” but over the years that dream has become a nightmare. Not too long ago, the headline grabbing horror stories reported the outlandish behavior and abuses of overbearing boards and managers who apparently believed their mission on earth was to harass elderly veterans for having the temerity to fly a flag on private property, to go after handicapped people for needing a service animal and children for wanting to have the toys all children have, or should have, when they are growing up. And what about all those promises made by all and sundry about HOAs protecting the values of the “American Dream”?
Could things really get worse?
Jan Bergemann joins us On The Commons this week. Jan is the tireless and prolific president of the Florida based Cyber Citizens for Justice. Little happens in Florida that Jan doesn’t know about. We talk about what happens when a poorly constructed condominium project faces millions of dollars in repair costs. Suing the developer for shoddy workmanship may not be the answer, especially when the developer is a Limited Liability Corporation. The owners, mostly retirees who paid top dollar for their units now find themselves facing tens of thousands of dollars in special assessments while watching the values of their “dream” home plummet. Shoddy construction and the total lack of government oversight are not the only threat to “home sweet home”. Another major issue many condo owners face is “termination”, also known as the eminent domain bill in Florida. This is a law that allows a majority of the owners to strip an owner of his or her home regardless of whether the owner is paid up or not. Tune in and find out how many different ways you and your bank account are being used, abused and bled dry. And next time someone tries to convince you that HOAs protect property values, don’t believe a word of it.