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Welcome to On the Commons!

Image On The Commons is a weekly radio show, dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding homeowner associations (HOAs) and condominiums.  It is broadcast live from WEBR, Fairfax, Virginia and available on this web site.

Join us as we explore the world of homeowner associations and condominiums, which are the fastest growing form of residential development in America today.  This housing concept includes homeowner associations, condominiums, cooperatives, and both attached and detached single-family homes.  Unfortunately this type of housing is not as utopian as its advocates would have us believe.  Living in a homeowner association means giving up a part of the American dream.  It means giving up Constitutional rights and control over one’s most valuable asset - one’s home.

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 "Property in a thing consists not merely in its ownership and possession, but in the unrestricted right of use, enjoyment, and disposal. Anything which destroys any of the elements of property, to that extent, destroys the property itself. The substantial value of property lies in its use. If the right of use be denied, the value of the property is annihilated and ownership is rendered a barren right."  --- Washington State Supreme Court Justice Richard B Sanders

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Its Here! 

The new On The Commons  podcast site

Seven years of easy to find On the Commons Podcasts 

 

The Curent Show

On the Commons with Carolyn Douglas

Respect, honor, honesty, decency, justice, manners - all have been buried in the past.  Once characteristics of civilized citizens they seem to have been delegated to an age gone by as we barge ahead, like a herd of cattle, headlong into the turbulent future.   There was a time when children were taught to be polite, to respect their neighbors, to be honest and truthful. It was unthinkable for decent and honorable people to mistreat each other, abuse neighbor's rights, bully and harass them just because they wanted to be the big gorilla in the neighborhood.  Nowadays if Sam the Man across the street decides his neighbor spent too much time crossing a private driveway, Sam the Man, and his brood of thugs, find it perfectly acceptable to chastise and penalize the neighbor.  There are fines, followed by threatening letters from their attorneys and finally foreclosure to get rid of undesirable neighbors.  The unthinkable has become common place.


But in this brave new world we have created, we always have the courts, don't we? 


Caroline Douglas joins us On The Commons.  Caroline, a former attorney, is well versed in the way the courts work.  Not being one to turn a blind eye to a lot of the injustices around her, she became a whistleblower. However, since lawyers' first loyalty is to the courts, Caroline could not alert the public to what really happens "behind closed doors" until she lost her law license.  At that point she was able to exercise her First Amendment rights.  So she wrote The Dark Side; a Law Treatise on Judging - with Memoir.  The book is packed with information but on the show we can only scratch the surface of some of the things that routinely happen behind the scenes.  We find out what and how we can protect our rights and we learn about some of the things that are done that are designed to frustrate and intimidate us. Once you know and understand what lies ahead, it is easier to navigate the murky waters of the justice system and come up with your defense and a plan of action.  I always feel like I have been drinking from a fire hydrant and that we haven't even made a dent in all we could learn from Caroline.  If you want to contact her you can reach her at 
 . . . Listen to Carolyn Douglas

 

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From the HOA Trenches

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On the Commons with Frank Short

I have never much liked the idea of mandatory membership homeowner associations.  The concept of binding private real property to a hodgepodge of real estate owned by a third party, maintained and controlled by a motley crew of individuals with no expertise in the art of management has always seemed counterintuitive to me.  That the model is not working is no real surprise.  What galls me the most however,  is the idea that a handful of owners and hired managers are allowed to fine the owners. This practice does get very personal.  People have been fined for some of the most ridiculous things.  A few examples include having a dusty roof and mailbox, a cracked flowerpot on the front porch, an "unapproved" garden hose in the yard, and "unapproved object" in a flowerpot (small US flag), talking to neighbors on front porch of ones own home, interior window blinds the wrong shade of white, a pet that exceeds the allowed weight limit, unapproved number of rose bushes, trash cans visible from the street.  The list goes on and on, all as ridiculous as these examples.  Fining is a power that is often used as a bully tool and abused and should be STOPPED.  Fines can lead to the loss of a home through foreclosure and the loss of an owner's financial security.  

Frank Short joins us On The Commons.  Frank, an attorney and a popular repeat guest of the show, discusses fines in HOAs and Condominiums.  He explains why we have fines and who benefits from the fines.  Over the years there have been a number of court cases about fines.  He discuses those cases, explains what the courts considered and tells us how they ruled.  He also explains the constitutional connections.  This is an excellent show from the archives.  For those being fined by their HOAs for whatever reason, this show is a must for the owner and their attorneys.  

Share your stories on  From the HOA Trenches . . .Listen to Frank Short    

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