A pool is a big draw for an apartment community, but it is a big responsibility, too. Management of amenities such as a pool or hot tub is as much a legal issue as it is a maintenance one. There are rules that each community must follow to appease both law enforcement and the insurance company. Understanding the basics of managing a pool designed for residents will keep your property out of hot water.
The Legal Side of Pool Maintenance
Each state has its own statutes—what they might refer to as the bathing codes. It is critical that you do your research and understand the laws in your area regarding pools at the local and state level. Most will be regarding public safety and especially designed to protect children. Some common rules you can expect to see include:
- Fencing regulations – Some type of fence is necessary to keep children out of the pool area without an adult.
- Entrance location – In most cases, the fence gate or pool entrance needs to be near the shallow end
- Ladders and stair requirements – There will be some rules about how deep the water can be without a ladder in the area.
- Filtration – The laws regarding filtration include how often the water must circulate through a filter daily.
About Those Liability Issues
With pools comes the potential of liability issues and higher insurance premiums. The insurance company will require you to post clear rules regarding pool use by residents and non-residents. Each insurance company develops their own rules and regulations based on litigation trends, local laws, and their experiences. Some common rules they may require include:
- Age limits for pool use – Most will require children under a listed age be in the company of an adult
- Restricted hours – The insurance company may have specific hours for pool use and will require you to post them.
- Party restrictions – Property management may allow pool parties upon request, but the insurance company can insist on guidelines for them, such as the number of people allowed in the pool area and limitations on what can be brought to the party, such as beer bottles.
- Electronic devices – Most will ban any devices such as stereo equipment or speakers in the pool area.
The insurance company can insist that residents sign a waiver of liability and indemnity when they rent an apartment. This protects them and the property owner from legal action. It also puts the responsibility on the resident for accidents and property damage associated with pool use.
Each property will have to develop their own guidelines regarding non-resident use of the pool facilities. The insurance company may require some form of security during the off hours to protect the pool. Rules about public use of the pool should be clearly posted to avoid any misunderstanding, as well. If residents are allowed to bring guests to the pool, that information should be part of the rental agreement.
Adding a pool does increase its value and it makes for a more pleasant living environment for residents. A pool doesn’t come without problems, however. If possible, consider hiring a pool designer and management service familiar with the local laws to ensure you follow the regulations and avoid the issues that come with offering a pool.