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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 Andy Ostrowski

 

Do all good intentions pave the road to hell? 

The earliest covenant controlled neighborhoods were exclusionary in nature.  Those covenants were struck down by the courts as being unconstitutional and eventually the Federal Government enacted legislation making them illegal.  But unfortunately that is not the end of the story.  Apparently the concept, too good to relegate to the past, was resurrected to ostensibly provide aesthetically pleasing meandering curvilinear streetscapes, complete with dead ends and cul de sacs.  But the quid pro quo for redesigning the burgeoning suburbs was to establish homeowner associations to maintain the infrastructure and  provide the services that were, and always had been, the responsibility of local municipal governments. And predictably, all those free tax dollars were too good to risk losing, so local governments across the country started mandating associations.  In the ensuing decades, a simple home, built to shelter, protect and nurture a family, has become the business of everyone else.  Far from being safe and secure, many of the owners live in fear, to the detriment of their health, their wealth and their happiness. 

The resulting horror stories are everywhere but help in understanding and dealing with the problems are nowhere to be found.  "It's a civil matter, go to court", "Oh, but you agreed", "It's a contract and you are in violation of your end of it".  It is a bit like finding oneself in the Twilight Zone.  Is there any hope of turning residential America around and bringing it back to a more normal community of real people living together in harmony and friendship rather than a place of dread and fear?

Andy Ostrowski joins us On The Commons this week.  Andy is a civil rights attorney with a history of fighting for those who can't always fight for themselves.  He is also someone who passionately believes in protecting constitutionally guaranteed rights.  Fortunately for the residents in Pennsylvania's  11th Congressional DIstrict, Andy is running for Congress.  Homeowners in his district have found a sympathetic ear for their plight and know that he will carry their concerns to the hallowed halls of the US Capitol in Washington DC.  What he has learned about residential America led him to write a paper titled;  Homeowner Associations:  The perfect Storm of Corporate Cronnyism and Legislative and Judicial Abuse of Constitutional Rights"   You can read his thoughts on the subject on https://www.facebook.com/ostrowskiforcongress  and you can learn more about him on his website http://andyostrowski.com and be sure to tune in to On The Commons to hear him, in his own words, talk about where he has been and where he plans on going.  And if you live in the 11th Congrssional District in Pennsylvania, do us all a favor and go to the polls and vote for Andy.  American homeowners need a voice in Congress but only you can get him there.
    Listen to Andy Ostrowski    

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On the Commons with Larry Murphree and Stephanie Krasowski

We have lost sight of the true value of homeownership in this country.  Traditionally buying property included a "Legal Bundle of Rights" that came with the deed. Those "rights" included the rights of possession, control, exclusion, enjoyment and disposition  and were irrefutable.  As long as the tax man was paid and the banker got the mortgage money, the owners were the royalties in residence.  They enjoyed every bit of the rights they acquired when they got the title to their castles.  The concept worked well until mandatory membership HOAs were involuntarily foisted on American homeowners.  No longer does ownership guarantee any of those rights, no longer do governments protect those rights and no longer is ownership a thing of pride and dignity.  In the kontrolled world of HOA living, pride, dignity, security, control and individuality have been replaced by fear, terror, abuse, theft and ill health.  

On The Commons this week we are rejoined by Larry Murphree.  You will recall that Larry, a condo owner in Florida, was cited by his HOA for having an "unauthorized object in his flowerpot" and was being fined $100/day for his transgression.  Yes, you read it right, the kondo kommandos in Larry's little bit of heaven decided to come up with a list of "flowerpot rules"!  Author of condo flowerpot rules. Put that on your epitaph!  Larry's 11X17 INCH flag violates the rules, offends their aesthetics and the uniformity of the look alike units.  As if that was not bad and stupid enough, the HOA attorney has started foreclosing to collect fines and legal fees.  in a power HOAs have commonly known as the priority of payment scam, legitimate assessments are diverted to pay the HOA attorney FIRST (wonder who wrote those laws?), fines, interest and other junk fees before making sure their share of the commons expenses are covered.   And as often happens,  there is nothing left the owner and the owner is behind in his or her dues. Time to foreclose and collect dues from "these deadbeat homeowners". You can read more about Larry's plight in his condo http://letmeflytheflag.com

What if you don't violate a flowerpot rule?  How well are your Rights of ownership being protected?

Stephanie Krasowski joins us during the second half of the show.  Stephanie, also a condo owner in Florida, is fighting a much bigger problem than a stupid flowerpot rule.  In her case it is not stupid neighbors but a stupid government that made it possible for her and thousands of Floridians to lose their homes in what amounts to a hostile takeover.  When a law is enacted as a knee jerk reaction to address a relatively small issue without putting in adequate protections to protect the citizens and prevent a small group of people from using and abusing the law for their own benefit, the lives of many people can be ruined.  A law that allows 80% of the owners in a condo project to terminate the condominium, stripping the remaining 20% of the owners of their RIGHTS and rendering them homeless is a huge problem.  Exact numbers may not be available but it is known that at least 17,010 people have lost their homes through no fault of their own and another 1035 families are at risk of being victims of this particular scam.  You can read more about this disaster http://www.cnbc.com/id/101746928 and sign Stephanie's petition to save her home http://www.change.org/p/floridiansact-against-condo-takeover.    Listen to Larry and Stephanie

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