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ADA Compliance – Update on HOAs, Condos and Swimming Pools

In the Spring of 2011, we blogged about Homeowners Associations and Condominium Associations that own swimming pools, wading pools, or spas. The issue we addressed was whether your Association needed to be aware of new requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The Justice Department had issued new ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which include mandates for removing barriers to access to pools and spas. We suggested that if your HOA or Condo Association allows non-members of the association to use its pool in exchange for some form of compensation, your pool may fall under the definition of a public accommodation. If it does, the association would have to comply with the new ADA Standards and provide accessible entry and exits no later than March 15, 2012.

The March 15, 2012 deadline has come and gone, but Attorney General Eric Holder signed a rule that extended the deadline for a period of 60 days after publication of the rule in the Federal Register.  A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was also filed on March 15, 2012, which proposes a 180-day extension of the compliance deadline. This blog post discusses what these delays mean for your HOA or Condo.

At a minimum, the delay means the deadline for compliance will be extended by at least 60 days, and possibly 180 days.  The extension was issued “to allow additional time to address misunderstandings regarding compliance” with providing accessible entry and exits.  The Department of Justice suggested that “Some pool owners and operators believed that taking certain steps would always satisfy their obligations under the ADA when in fact those steps would not necessarily result in compliance with the ADA regulations. “

Most community association pools do not require compliance with the accessible entry and exit requirements of the ADA because the pools are not areas of public accommodation. However, the use made of the common area may make the amenity or facility a public accommodation. The guidance provided in the ADA Title III Technical Assistance Manual provides as follows:

  • Does title III apply to common areas within residential facilities? Although title III does not apply to strictly residential facilities, it covers places of public accommodation within residential facilities. Thus, areas within multifamily residential facilities that qualify as places of public accommodation are covered by the ADA if use of the areas is not limited exclusively to owners, residents, and their guests.
    • ILLUSTRATION 1: A private residential apartment complex includes a swimming pool for use by apartment tenants and their guests. The complex also sells pool “memberships” generally to the public. The pool qualifies as a place of public accommodation.
    • ILLUSTRATION 2: A residential condominium association maintains a longstanding policy of restricting use of its party room to owners, residents, and their guests. Consistent with that policy, it refuses to rent the room to local businesses and community organizations as a meeting place for educational seminars. The party room is not a place of public accommodation.
    • ILLUSTRATION 3: A private residential apartment complex contains a rental office. The rental office is a place of public accommodation.

At this point, there is still a great deal of uncertainty regarding these standards. However, if you are selling pool memberships to parties other than the members of the community association, opening up the pool to persons other than members or guest, or using the pool for swim teams and swim competitions, you should consult your community association attorney for advice on whether the ADA Standards for Accessible Design apply to your pool.

Susan Tarley





Tarley Robinson, PLC, Attorneys and Counsellors at Law

Williamsburg, Virginia

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Susan Tarley

Susan chairs the firm's common interest community (HOAs and Condos) practice area. She was admitted into the College of Community Association Attorneys (“CCAL”). Susan is one of fewer than 150 attorneys nationwide to be admitted to CCAL, for distinguishing herself through contributions to the evolution or practice of community association law.

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