Many Community Associations prepare to open their neighborhood pool by adding chemicals and performing maintenance to ensure the health and safety of the Owners. But just as HOAs take care in measuring chlorine and skimming leaves, Boards of Directors are well-advised to take care in preparing the Association’s Pool Rules. This blog post reviews the possible “rules” that HOAs may implement for pool safety.
Pool rules generally fall into three categories: 1) Rules that govern access; 2) Rules that govern safety; and 3) Rules that cover conduct. These categories sometimes overlap and it is good to consider all three as you prepare each pool rule.
When implementing pool rules, safety is the number one priority. Safety considerations range from drowning prevention to dangers on the pool deck, to having rescue and first aid safety equipment available. Additionally, Associations may disallow alcohol at the pool as a safety precaution.
Because Association pools are for Association members (and their guests), it is important to control access to the pool both during and after hours. Many condo associations and HOAs find it effective to use a traditional lock and key system or a key fob system. The pool stays locked at all times, and members must use their key to gain entrance to the pool. Some Associations use a sign-in system whereby a pool attendant or lifeguard monitors access and asks members and guests to present identification and sign in. This method can be less effective due to attendants’ inherent reluctance to confront people who may or may not be authorized. A pool access system should be discussed by the Board of Directors and approved based on the type of pool within community.
Finally, when it comes to promulgating rules that pertain to conduct, such as evaluating and monitoring swimmers, HOAs that wish to set age requirements for swimmers or administer swim tests to certain age groups must be careful not to run afoul of the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of “familial status” which means families with children. In the pool context, this means an Association cannot administer swim tests to a certain age group, based on the assumption that they are too young to swim in deep water. The same rule goes for swim diapers. There is no correlation between age and swimming ability, nor is there a correlation between age and continence. A rule that states that incontinent swimmers must wear a swim diaper is a fairly drafted rule. Rules that are neutral in nature ensure all members are treated equally and keep the Association on the right side of the Fair Housing Act.
Preparing pool rules can be a balancing act for an Association concerned with the safety of its members, but also charged with being mindful of its obligations under the Fair Housing Act. It is always a good idea to have an experienced HOA attorney assist you with your pool rules to help keep your Association out of deep water.
Tarley Robinson, PLC, Attorneys and Counsellors at Law
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