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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 Sara Benson

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I often see cartoons when I read the horror stories and see the abuses that take place in a residential association.  Unfortunately what my mind "sees", my hand can't seem to draw so others can also take advantage of the "picture" in my mind.  I have to use the thousand words to get you to see and feel what I see and feel when these stories come pouring out.  So bear with me.

One of the many images that readily comes to the forefront of my mind when thinking of the hundreds of heartbreaking stories is a tsunami  One small puff of air in the shape of a pudgy pooch or window blinds that are the wrong shade of white and off we go.  The HOA huffs and it puffs and it gathers up strength and speed and then it rolls across the oceans, demolishing everything in its wake. When the oceans unleash their fury and come inland it is called a "disaster".  When an HOA bulldozes a member why don't we recognize it as a disaster?  All of these horrors and abuses are slowly but surely destroying any sense of community and 

" belonging" we have.  

Sara Benson joins us On The Commons.  Sara is a longtime real estate broker in Chicago where condos and co-ops abound.  Her hands-on and intimate knowledge of the residential association regime led her to co author a book called "Escaping the Condo Jail - The Keys to navigating Risks and surviving perils of the "Carefree" Community Lifestyle."  The book has been out for a couple of years now and anytime a book, a blog, an article or even a radio show is available to the public, it acts as a lifeline to homeowners drowning in the abuses of their HOAs.  We talk to Sara about her book and follow up on some of the feedback she has received.  Keep the image of a tsunami rolling across the angry oceans, looking for a place to land as you listen to the show and you will get an idea of how well Escaping Condo Jail is doing.  . . .   Listen to Sara Benson

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On the Commons with Carolyn Douglas

You follow a case as it winds its way through the court system.  It seems so simple, so cut and dried that you wonder why so much time, money and hostility is invested in such a petty argument.  Why should it cost hundreds of thousands of hard earned dollars to figure out whether a homeowner in an association can have white roses instead of red ones?  Or whether or not a condo owner is allowed to have a small American flag on his or her front porch or if a family can have a swing set in the backyard for their children?  Why should these even be an issue?  And why would anyone in their right mind care?  And finally, after months of discovery, nasty letters, fines, bullying, isolation and abusive language, dividing up the neighborhood, name calling and other nastiness, the opinion from the judges is handed down deciding the case once and for all.  This is it, this is the end of this road. The wise men and women of the legal system have spoken and you are left with your mouth hanging open, wondering what on earth just happened.  

Caroline Douglas joins us On The Commons.  Caroline has a law degree although she is no longer a practicing attorney.  She has seen the dark side of the legal profession and decided to blow the whistle on what happens "behind the scenes".  In an 800 page book called "The Dark Side: a law treatise on judging - with memoir" she explains it all and gives us clues to look for so we are not caught off guard.  In a fascinating interview she walks us through what goes on behind the scenes and how and why some of these off the wall decisions are reached.  Caroline has witnessed these irregularities both as a practicing attorney and a litigant caught in this legal "chamber of horrors". You can reach Caroline at  but you won't want to miss this interview. 

 . . . Listen to Carolyn Douglas      Write Comment (0 comments)

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