Shelly and Mike Marshall

Shelly Marshall

For years the bulk of information about this relatively new experiment in housing has come from the industry that has created it and gains from it.  The sales pitch generally describes the concept of condominiums, homeowner associations and cooperatives in glowing terms, promising the owners an easy life where all their problems will be taken care of for them.  Housing consumers are assured they will have greater control over their immediate environment, that this  is “democracy up close and personal”, it is carefree living at its best, owners will have access to amenities that are beyond the financial reach of most Americans and of course the promise of protected and enhanced property values.  We’ve all heard these promises and all know that nothing can be further from the truth.

But finally the tables are starting to turn. Academics, attorneys, psychologists, advocates and medical professionals are speaking out.  And finally the truth about the effects of HOAs is being uncovered.

Dr. Michael Marshall and Shelly Marshall join us On The Commons.  Mike is a professor of psychology, a researcher and a clinical psychologist.  Shelly is an author, a recovery therapist, a keynote speaker and a book publisher.  In addition to all they do, this brother and sister, along with Deborah Goonan, wrote an amazing paper called  “HOA power relationship, problem –  solving, and communication patterns during a major building renovation construction crisis. ”   Click here to read: HOA power relationship, problem-solving, and communication patterns during a major building renovation construction crisis

We’ll talk to Mike and Shelly about their case study, a crisis in a condo association on the gulf coast.  In this case the condo owners were faced with massive renovations.  The condo owners were facing having to get a loan in excess of 10 million dollars to make the repairs.  Naturally the owners would be required to repay the loan.  We’ll learn how the association communicated the problem to the owners and how the owners reacted.  While we have seen many similar cases, they have all focused on the structural issues, and often when discussed by the HOA industry the blame has been put squarely on the shoulders of the owners.  What is refreshingly enlightening about this paper is that the authors study the situation more from an interpersonal and normal communication perspective.  Really happy to note that this dynamic trio are busy working on their next paper.  It is high time to get the real story out.

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Mike Marshall

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Deborah Goonan

Deborah Goonan

Lord Acton said ” power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  And if what is happening all around us is not proof that he was bang on target, I don’t know what is.  I can list all the rights and freedoms Americans have lost and are losing at all levels but this week I want to focus on the most innocent and vulnerable among us – our children.  Yes, they are being targeted by the bullies in HOAs and in local governments. For generations kids have been allowed to set up lemonade stands, make and sell lemonade to make some pocket money, help their parents meet their expenses, raise money for charity and even for neighbors.  They have learned so much and, along the way practiced being responsible adults.  But that’s not good enough. 

Deborah Goonan joins us On The Commons. Deborah has a blog called  Independent American Communities   where she blogs about everything that is happening in America’s HOA controlled neighborhoods  and also the non HOA controlled communities. But as we learn today, it is not just HOAs that behave like thugs and seem to exist solely to “enforce, enforce, enforce”.   Local real governments seem to have jumped on the bandwagon and will apparently do anything to increase their revenue, even at the expense of children. We’ll talk to Deborah about two states, Texas and Colorado, that have enacted legislation allowing children under 18 to have lemonade stands without having to get a municipal permit to do so.  Can you imagine forcing a 5 or 6 or even an 11 year old to pay outrageous fees for a permit and then FINING the child if they neglected to get one?  These two states appear to be role models because other states are also contemplating legislatively allowing children to be children, including New York.  The other piece of good news I have for you is that  Country Time, makers of lemonade have set up a Lemon Ade,  for a brief period of time they will pay for fines incurred for setting up a lemonade stand as well as permits paid for – with proof, of course. 

So proud of the children who are standing up for their rights.  Be sure to watch 8 year old  Branson Burton’s testimony  in front of the Texas committee on State Affairs.  Kids like Branson give me hope that all is not lost.

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Bill Davis

The mere existence of a homeowners association does not mean that the HOA has limitless power and authority and can do everything and anything it wants.  Unfortunately that notion seems to be widely accepted.  I’ve heard board members say, “we are the board and can do anything we want” and their attorneys respond, You are not on solid legal foundation but homeowners don’t assert their rights so go ahead…..   So what is a homeowner who is caught in this insane web to do?

Bill Davis joins us On The Commons. Bill, a Texas attorney who represents homeowners against their homeowners associations tends to run into some of the strangest cases.  Today’s discussion is about one such case and underscores the importance of homeowners doing their own research. We’ll talk about one association that may, or may not have the power and authority to do anything it feels like doing.  In this case the homeowner chose to assert his legal rights and in the process uncovered some interesting facts about the association.