Virtual is Reality – 3 Keys to Successful HOA Management During COVID-19


Social distancing. Masks. Virtual meetings. Handwashing. Lots and lots of handwashing.

2020 brought an onslaught of new terms and new normals around the globe as we all work through this global pandemic together. According to an April 2020 study done by Stanford and MIT, nearly HALF of the US labor force is now working from home. COVID-19 has drastically changed how we work and how we communicate. Office buildings and parking lots alike are left dark and silent as businesses and company structures transition from an office setting to a work-from-home environment. From banks to tech to property management, no industry has been left untouched.

Property management, an industry that historically has relied on an office setting to enter data, send homeowner and board communications, and to manage reporting, was hit hard along with other US industries. But community management faced a unique challenge: with more and more people staying home, there has been an exponential increase in architecture requests, the steady need for inspections, and the new challenges of how to meet and collaborate without meeting in person.

How quickly and effectively homeowner’s association management companies and groups were able to make the transition from an office setting to a work from home environment was dependent, almost solely, on one thing: technology.

Here are 3 things successful HOA Management companies have done to adjust to the coronavirus:



From going home-to-home checking the community, to stuffing and sending envelopes, to in-person board meetings, it’s no secret that HOA management has been wrought with time-consuming in-person tasks.

With the current pandemic recommendations, many of these tasks became more than just a drain on time – they also put your team at high risk. But communities still need to be managed, perhaps more now than ever.

The simplest and fastest way to overcome this monumental hurdle is to go mobile. Cloud-based mobile management like Smartwebs’ SmartViolations helps keep team members safe by ditching the clip board for a smartphone or tablet, and empowering them to use GPS tracking tech to inspect, report, and even send notifications all without having to go into an office. As an added bonus, many management companies have seen up to a 70% increase in productivity1 when switching to a mobile management platform.

Some key things to look for when seeking a mobile management solution are the ability to work and connect outside of the office, effective GPS tracking, the ability to create and send notifications from anywhere, and real-time reporting and updates.

All of these elements make for a safer management process, with the added bonus of saving time as well.



Even with masks and social distancing, more and more businesses are finding that in-person meetings pose too much of a risk for their workers. But that’s not slowing people down from home improvement! Architectural requests increased 42% in Q2 20202 alone, with even bigger increases as the year progresses.

One solution is to hold virtual meetings with your board. While Zoom and GoToMeeting video formats can help, they don’t have the ability to record and track progress with your homeowners, or to make note of any additional questions or required documents for each project.

The best software offers solutions to these problems and more. Key elements to look for are an online collaboration tool, the ability to automate communication (when an item has been voted on, notice of approval or requests for more information), automated reminders for voting deadlines, and the ability for homeowners to upload all necessary documents.

SmartArchitecturals provides these features and more, and works well with sister software designed to simplify every aspect of HOA management. Ideally, you want your software to integrate every element into a larger community management tool, with records for the homeowners and management company in one convenient location that can be accessed from anywhere.



With so much uncertainty, one step you can take to reassure your team and community is simple: stay in contact. But, while the concept of connecting is a simple one, often the mechanics of keeping up with community communication is difficult.

Finding the right tools to allow not only your management team, but homeowners and board members alike, quick and easy access to HOA management resources is key to staying transparent.

So, what are the key elements that help most with communication?

Homeowner access to their profile. When a homeowner is able to see a transaction history, approval status, and community communications in one location, the entire process is simplified. This also reduces the amount of emails and calls from homeowners asking about the status of things.

Fast messaging on multiple platforms. Look for software that allows you to send out consistent messaging across your community, by email, voicemail, and text. SmartCommunications has all of these elements, and has the added ability to filter and tag members in your community for quick reference and contact. Need to send out a community update? Quickly do so with targeted messaging sent with one-click.

Stay in sync. Make sure that your messages, updates, and notes are available on all platforms. Look for a package that offers multiple software solutions for the various aspects of HOA management. The goal is to avoid duplicating work on your end, and to be sure that all communication is recorded and is easily accessible to the team, board, and homeowners.

While adjusting has been hard, there are quite a few small and simple changes we can all make to stay together even when we’re apart. As the world continues to work through COVID-19, keep ahead of the curve with cloud-based tech solutions.

Stay mobile – Stay efficient – Stay in touch.

Stay safe.


1 According to a study done by Smartwebs Inc, 2018.
2 YTD October 2020 increase in architectural requests through SmartArchitecturals

Is Your HOA Prepared to Communicate in Times of Emergency?


A lot has changed in our world over the past few weeks and the situation is evolving by the day if not by the hour. With multiple cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) being reported throughout the US, your HOA management team is almost certainly being asked many questions. How is your association handling the pandemic? Is your team prepared to communicate effectively to answer all of the questions?

And among all of these questions, there’s an underlying technical hold up: is your HOA prepared to react quickly and communicate efficiently with your community during this time?

Here are a few easy guidelines to help your management team and board navigate these uncharted waters:

Have a Plan In Place

A good starting point for any team is to make sure that you have a plan in place. This will help your association communicate with your community, and provide some guidance – and comfort – to your homeowners and HOA members.

The CDC highly recommends limiting person-to-person contact. This means that postponing in-person HOA Board meetings and HOA membership meetings is critical. But there are other questions to look at for your community: Is your association limiting access to common areas like the pool, meeting areas, sports courts, playgrounds and the like? How do you plan on enforcing these new guidelines? Will your HOA relax rules for violations and payments?

Address questions like these to create your plan so that your team can move forward to implement new guidelines throughout your community. Ward and Smith offers some excellent insights for how HOA Boards can prepare during this pandemic. You can read more here to help your association and board make smart, informed decisions and to set your plan in place.

Communication Is Key

Great! Now that you have your playbook set, it’s critical to disperse updated information quickly, and to the right audience. You should be clear about the new guidelines, and keep the community updated about what your HOA team is doing.

So how do you do that efficiently? Letters take days to deliver, and sending individual texts, voicemails, and emails is incredibly time consuming (not to mention a big disruption of your team’s workflow). Having a system in place to select your audience and send your messaging out rapidly will ensure your community has all of the tools and information they need, when they need it. Plus, your team will be happy to have an easy way to communicate with the community as well.

When assessing your communications tools, you want to make sure they have a way to target the correct audience, have multiple forms of communication at your fingertips, and are easy to use. Texts, emails, voicemails, and association documents for mailing should all be readily available for your team to send when needed. And, as times are changing rapidly, the ability to communicate at a moment’s notice, no matter where your team is working, is invaluable.

Tools to Communicate

Cloud-based software is a game-changer for management teams that are working remotely. As all association managers and employees know, being able to move around and work from outside of the office is critical to the role. And having software that allows you to do your job without being tethered to an office makes your role easier and allows you to manage your properties more effectively.

Communications software, like Smartwebs’ SmartCommunications, allows you to oversee your community at a glance from an online portal, gives you the ability to select members to contact, and has the ability to send messaging out on ALL platforms with only a few clicks.

So now your plan is set, your communication is ready…what next?

Stay Calm

Through all of this, it’s important to remember to stay calm throughout these trying times. Stay in touch with your homeowners, board members, and association management team. Open and frequent communication is the best way to quell any concerns and keep your community up-to-date.

Now, more than ever, we are relying on people adapting and looking out for each other. Be prepared, take measures to help protect your community, and stay safe!

HOA Community Management – Setting Goals for the New Year

As family and friends start to leave, and the holiday decorations start to come down all throughout your managed community, now is a great time to plan for the upcoming year. New Year, New You? We all love the idea, and revamping some key elements on how you manage your HOA properties can make all of the difference in the world for an even more successful 2020. Here are some new year’s goals so your HOA management team can grow in the New Year:


Streamline Your Process

It’s incredible how much time we lose with inefficient processes. For the new year, take some time to audit your procedures both in the office, and around the community, to see if there are any areas that your team is taking more steps than necessary.

For example, how efficient are your practices for inspecting the neighborhood for HOA violations? Manual data entry can be an antiquated and time-consuming process. Most property management teams’ process looks something like this: patrol the neighborhood and take hand-written notes for each violation identified, finish the property tour, return to the office and transcribe notes, create and send out emails, create and send out letters, make notes in the resident’s file, communicate with management team.

This manual process eats up precious time that could be better spent elsewhere. In 2020, look to technology to help save you time, money and stress levels. Consider HOA management software that is cloud-based and offers a full suite of packages that will cover all of your needs. A good HOA Management software can take out many of the repetitive steps in your inspection process, automate your notifications, and consolidate team notes in one location that your entire team (and board, when necessary) can access from anywhere – mobile or office. Some key things to analyze when considering your options:

  • Do they offer a full suite of products to cover your needs? (Violations, Work Orders, Architecture requests, Resident Portals, and accounting options)
  • Does the software integrate with systems you already have in place?
  • Does the software suite offer mobile, office, online and offline options for access?
  • How involved is the company with set up?
  • Do they offer HOA management software for management companies and self-managed communities?

Answering these questions will help you make the right choice when you upgrading your systems with a cloud-based software solution.


Increase Communication

Communication is key for any great management team, and HOA management is no different! Too often teams struggle with clear communication between the board and with residents, and even within the team itself.

First, are you communicating quickly and efficiently? Show your residents and team that their questions, and time are valid and important. Fast, thoughtful communication will go a long way for relationship building both in the property management team, and with residents.

Additionally, be sure to keep residents apprised on HOA on-goings including board meetings with information, and updates to policies or HOA bylaws.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly – make sure that you’re giving your residents and team members straightforward and easily accessible methods for communication. Do your residents and team have a simple way to contact the HOA management team? How easy is it for your team to share notes and information within your current system? There are several online software options to consider that offer fast, easy-to-access ways for residents, board members, and the association team to communicate.

Healthy and frequent communication between the team, board, and residents is vital for success in your community.

With these simple New Year goals for your HOA management team, you’ll see a happier and healthier community, along with a team that’s more efficient and functional.

We can toast to that!

Homeowners Association HOA Pet Policies and Enforcement

HOA Pet Policies and Restrictions to know about

Today, many view pets as essential members of the family. It is only proper that homeowner associations permit dogs in their neighborhoods. If your organization allows pets, you probably already understand how important it is to have regulations for residents who have animal friends. Here are the HOA pet policies that your association should enforce for those who haven’t yet created a clear policy.

Homeowners Association HOA Pet Policies: Common Examples

The type and amount of pet laws that HOAs choose to enact in their communities are often up to them. There are, however, a few fundamental guidelines for pets that every organization should think about including in their HOA pet policy.

  1. Pet registration

    To begin with, homeowners associations may require that owners register any dogs they possess with the organization. There is a clear and obvious explanation for this: The Board of Directors cannot feasibly enforce dog limitations or any other pet prohibitions if they are unaware of the number of dogs living in the neighborhood.

    Basically, the HOA has the right to request that brand-new homeowners or condo residents disclose any dogs they possess prior to moving in. Current homeowners may also need to submit a new pet application in accordance with any applicable pet restrictions before getting a new dog or cat.

    The HOA may more readily monitor pets in the neighborhood and pursue noncompliant residents by requesting that all homeowners register their dogs.

  2. Waste Cleanup

    The neighborhood may also impose some regulations about garbage pickup and elimination in addition to HOA pet limitations. In other words, dog laws could mandate that pet owners keep their front yards and/or all public spaces free of solid waste and dog feces.

    This goes beyond mere HOA aesthetics. Remember that unattended animal waste can potentially get highly unpleasant and dangerous. In other words, public health and safety may be at stake.

    As a result, your HOA has every right to make it clear that all pet owners are required to clean up and properly dispose of their animal’s waste.

    Your HOA can urge residents to abide by these regulations in a few different ways. For example, It is beneficial to provide bags and trashcans throughout the neighborhood so that dog owners may easily manage the solid waste problem. In addition, it could be required to charge pet owners who break these crucial HOA regulations penalties or fees.

  3. HOA Dog Barking Rules

    Barking may also be covered under HOA pet rules. To be clear, it’s OK and healthy for dogs to occasionally bark and make noise. It would be absurd to anticipate a bark-free neighborhood. Having said that, dogs shouldn’t bark excessively or in a way that interferes with the lives of other HOA residents.

    Regarding particular pet limitations, you may always urge neighbors to notify the Board of any issues they notice with excessive barking. The Board may occasionally need to speak with a homeowner about a particular animal, asking that if the animal is unable to be quiet in the backyard at night, it be brought inside.

    Remember that occasionally pet owners aren’t aware that their dog’s noise is so upsetting to the neighborhood. As a result, it might be beneficial to simply sit down and have a casual, non-competitive conversation with them. A representative of the HOA may frequently collaborate with the homeowner to come up with a plan for reducing noise.

  4. Pet Leashing Policy

    Another thing your HOA may do is mandate that every pet be kept on a leash when being walked about the community.

    These HOA pet limitations may be beneficial for the pet since they will keep it from escaping or becoming lost. However, it can also assist in ensuring the security of other members of the community. Keep in mind that putting animals in unpleasant or unexpected settings can cause them to get triggered, even the friendliest, most non-aggressive ones. Having leashes required helps keep everyone in the neighborhood safe.

    One solution is that your HOA creates a dog park where animals may run about and burn off energy without having to be attached to their owners in addition to its leash laws. This is a fantastic approach to placate pet owners.

  5. Liability Policy for Pet Owners

    Last but not least, it’s typically advisable to add some wording concerning responsibility in your HOA pet regulations. In essence, you want to establish that people who possess pets are accountable for the behavior of such animals in the law. In this manner, the association is protected from any legal susceptibility in the event that a pet-related accident or injury occurs.

    The likelihood of time-consuming or expensive litigation will also be reduced by laws and regulations that define culpability clearly.

    Make sure everyone who owns a house or condo understands that they are legally accountable for both the behavior of any pets they own and any visitors who stay with them there. Indemnify the association and other residents from any pet-related harm, accidents, or severe disruptions.

Additional Homeowners Association (HOA) pet policies and restrictions

Do HOA rules apply to pets? Can a Homeowners association impose a pet restriction? These are typical inquiries from homeowners. However, the solutions to these queries are rather straightforward.

In general, homeowners associations do have the authority to set restrictions on the types and numbers of dogs that are allowed in a neighborhood. Various associations may have different extra HOA pet restrictions. However, the following are some of the most typical HOA dog restrictions:

  • Limit the number of pets per home.
  • Set a maximum pet weight for each dog in the HOA.
  • Permitting only a few dog breeds in the community.
  • Require the spaying or neutering of pets.

Many organizations categorically forbid “aggressive” dog breeds. But using such terminology can be challenging. There is some disagreement over several breeds, although a few are typically thought to be violent. What happens if some residents of your HOA feel the dog to be violent but others don’t?

Additionally, if the dog is a combination of two or more breeds, you can have technical difficulties. When in doubt, consult a pet control officer or consult your community’s dog breed regulations.

Can an HOA put restrictions on indoor pets?

Yes, in a nutshell, albeit it can be a little more difficult to implement certain guidelines. You may decide that it’s best to just control how animals behave outside or in public spaces (leash rules, rules about poop, etc).

These are just a few things to think about as your organization creates pet regulations that make your neighborhood a safer, friendlier, and more tranquil place to live.

Can an HOA force you to get rid of your pet?

Many organizations have a very strict no-pets rule that leaves absolutely no room for discretion. In such instances, the response to this query is based on the date the policy was put into effect. The HOA may legally require you to give up your pet if such a policy was in place before you opted to adopt one. On the other hand, there is a significant probability the HOA won’t be able to enforce the new no-pets policy against you if you already have a pet and the HOA introduces it.

The kind of association may also have an impact on an HOA’s decision to implement a no-pets policy. In comparison to single-family homes, condominium settings are often where such a policy is more prevalent. This is due to the fact that pet noise is a much bigger issue when apartments are close together.

Can the fair housing act (FHA) overrule the HOA pet policies (CC&Rs)?

In short, yes.

Service animals may be quite important to the daily wellness of the people in your community. Whatever regulations you implement, make sure they provide lots of latitude for people who use service animals in their lives, including those who require a comfort animal for emotional support.

It’s important to remember that having a pet isn’t only for pleasure; the Fair Housing Act protects individuals and family members in your neighborhood who require dogs or other animals to provide emotional support.

In other words, it is required by law for your HOA or condominium organization to provide accommodations for emotional support animals.

Make your HOA pet policy and CC&Rs clear upfront

As soon as a new homeowner moves into the neighborhood, make sure they are aware of the HOA’s pet policies. Your governing documents, which should be included in the welcome package for new homes, should clearly describe them. Additionally, it’s a good idea to periodically remind residents to abide by these regulations by displaying them on your HOA website or putting them in your newsletter.

If your board agrees to update the HOA dog rules, make sure you promptly and effectively notify all members of the modification or addition. Consider allowing time during the following meeting for questions on the adjustments as well.

Pet policies in your HOA ensure the safety and aesthetic appeal of your neighborhood.

70% of U.S. households (90.5 million homes) owned a pet as of 2022. This will reflect in your HOA community. Rather than banning pets altogether, it’s better to have clear, established, and easy-to-understand HOA dog rules for your homeowners.

As a board member, ensure that your homeowners are aware of the rationale behind these regulations. It’s not to make their lives more difficult; rather, it’s to keep your neighborhood attractive and safe. The association won’t have to deal with pet-related issues in their neighborhood as long as everyone works together.

It might be time to hire a professional to handle the homeowners association dog regulations if your board is struggling to manage them. Utilize our comprehensive online directory to find the top HOA management business in your neighborhood right now.

Why your HOA needs cloud technology

What is HOA Cloud Technology? We all know about the clouds that shade the sun and carry rain. Now it’s time to get to know the other cloud—the one that delivers computing power, handy applications, and the ability to share information with others wherever and whenever you need. Like the atmospheric mass that provides its name, the technological phenomenon impacts our daily lives.

Cloud computing sounds mysterious and untrustworthy, but chances are you’re already working, playing and surfing in the cloud. If you’ve purchased an iPhone, Kindle, or any smartphone, tablet or computer recently, you’re probably taking advantage of its benefits. If you’ve downloaded a song from the Internet, chatted on Skype or purchased something from, you’ve used the cloud.

So, what does the cloud mean to you, and how can you harness its power?

It means you can pay your assessments online. You can access association documents and board meeting minutes from wherever you are. It might also mean, for the owners of second homes, that you can tune in to board meetings from the other side of the country.

It means you can work from a remote office without losing a beat. You can collaborate with others on a document without having to e-mail the file back and forth. You can store photos, music and files online without taking up precious space on your computer.

The cloud offers cheaper, stress-free alternatives to expensive hardware and maintenance. All you really need to take advantage of the cloud is reliable Internet access, but you should carefully consider security, privacy, the provider’s reliability and contract terms first.

How secure is your data and information on the cloud? What privacy rules are you subject to? Some cloud services include clauses that allow providers to access and use a customer’s data —often for marketing purposes—and can retain that data long after you’re done using the service.

What if the company providing the cloud service goes out of business? What happens to all your information? Do contact terms lock you into one program or application?

These are important questions to ask. And though the cloud is relatively new, it’s here to stay and will become even more prevalent over time.

How have you been able to determine which cloud-technology software to use for your own HOA? Share your ideas in the comments below!

Source: Copyright-Free Articles for Community Association Newsletters and Websites Volume 2.  Cloudy with a Chance of Technology.