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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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It's Here: The link to the "other" On the Commons Site 

 

The Curent Show

On the Commons with Jonathan Dessaules

An often cited benefit for residential associations used to be that they allowed the members greater control over their immediate surroundings. The other bonus they were promised was that collectively they would gain political clout.  At least that was the sales pitch, along with the ever present promise of enhanced property values.  It all sounded wonderful and in a perverse sense sounded sort of logical. But as we have learned over the years not everything works the way it is supposed to.  In fact in the case of residential associations, the opposite is true.  Not only don't the members have control over their immediate surroundings but have lost sovereignty over their own private spaces.  The existence of an HOA or Condo association is infinitely more intrusive and tyrannical than a neighborhood where the residents are on their own and allegedly have no control.  

Jonathan Dessaules joins us On The Commons. Jon is an attorney in Phoenix, Arizona.   As part of his practice  he represents homeowners against their associations.  He is one of a handful of attorneys nationwide who will only represent the owners and not straddle the fence hopping over to the HOA side when they feel like it.  Currently his is in a class of his own in Arizona.  He also has a blog where he discusses HOA issues and gives general guidance.  It's a great page to check out for quick guidance on some of the more common issues facing homeowners.  We talk to Jon about all the usual HOA issues common to all American homeowners but we also talk about a long and protracted case that he recently won.  His clients own a unit in an upscale condominium where the fees are in excess of $1,000/month. The condo shut the key card down, impeding access to the private unit and banned the use of the amenities until the owners forfeited  a  right they had.  So much for having greater control of your immediate surroundings in a residential association. . . . Listen to Jonathan Dessaules . . . .

 

Share your stories on  From the HOA Trenches 

On the Commons with Ileana Johnson

Words have meanings and the word community generally imparts a sense of belonging.  People in a community tend to have something in common.  They come from similar backgrounds, are generally in the same socioeconomic group, perhaps share hobbies and  interests.  They have something that binds them together.  In the good old days, before "communities" were designed and force-fed on Americans, the sense of community evolved naturally.  Neighbors were friends who helped and looked out for each other.  They took in a child who might have inadvertently been locked out, picked up packages for neighbors or retrieved a trash can that was blown down the street by the wind.  In this brave new world of controlled living, the sense of community is no longer communal but rather a gathering of people who delight is spying on their neighbors.  Now a child who is locked out might get rescued by the police, mail is left out and the association is called to report a stray trash can.   

Ileana Johnson joins us On The Commons this week.  Ileana is an American by choice and a Romanian by birth.  She is a freelance journalist, an author, a speaker and a radio commentator.  She also maintains a blog at www.ileanajohnson.com.  Ileana and her husband currently live in a Homeowner Association in Virginia where inspections are conducted regularly to ensure that no blade of grass exceeds the allowable length and that all things visible on the property conform to some rather vague standard.  Creativity and individuality are highly frowned upon.  Ileana tells us about life in her 300 square foot apartment in Communist Romania and draws some parallels between Communist Romania and HOAs, American Style.  Sometimes it is hard to find much difference.    Listen to Ileana Johnson     


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