Swim season is here. While your residents are excited about getting wet, it means more stress for you and your staff, especially if you don’t have good pool rules.

For everybody’s health and safety, community association board members and managers need to make sure their pool rules are comprehensive, covering everything from guests, children, swimwear, slides, diving boards, and even smoking and cellphones. It’s not enough to simply post the rules around the pool. Reminders need to be sent, and new residents should be briefed. “Since new people are constantly moving in and out of the neighborhood, there are always new residents to educate,” says Dwayne Lowry, CMCA, AMS, general manager of New Territory Residential Community Association in Sugar Land, Texas.

Whether you’ve got new or long-time residents, the rules need to be enforced to be effective. “People simply aren’t allowed into the pool, or they can be removed from the pool by the pool management company and their facility usage can be suspended,” says Lowry, explaining what happens to New Territory’s pool rule breakers.

New Territory, for the comfort and health of all, bans smoking at its pools. In addition, cellphones must be kept at least 6 feet from the water. “People tend to do rash things to save a phone, and that would pose safety concerns for the guards,” says Lowry.

And, for everyone’s enjoyment of the amenity, proper swimming attire is required. New Territory bans cut-offs, inappropriate suits, and loose clothing. It also implements a 10-minute safety break, observed each hour, at each of its pools. According to the rules, everyone must be out of the water.

While community associations are responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of the people who use common area facilities, like pools, they’re also responsible for writing rules that aren’t discriminatory. The federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 forces associations to examine all rules regarding the use of the common facilities to ensure they do not discriminate against individuals protected by the act, including discrimination based on handicap and familial status.

No rules are foolproof, but covering the basics and tailoring the details will make the summer at the pool easier for you, your staff, and your residents.

Right by the Rules

When writing rules, associations should follow three basic principles:

1. The board must have sufficient rule-making authority in its governing documents. Rules must be duly adopted at a board meeting and, once passed, they must be published and distributed to association members before they are enforced.

2. The rule must be reasonable, and it must relate to a legitimate purpose. It should be a good response to the problem being addressed.

3. The rule must be uniformly enforced.

For more information about pools and how you and your community can swim safely this summer check out The Ultimate Guide to Pool Maintenance, available for purchase at CAI Press.

  • Julie Warren

    Julie Warren is a freelance writer and former editor of CAI's award-winning Community Manager, as well as Minutes, and Community 411. Before joining CAI, she wrote and edited a wide range of publications for the American Society of Interior Designers, Northern Virginia Technology Council, and the Association of American University Women, among other organizations. In her spare time, Julie serves as president of her HOA and is an avid traveler, particularly if the destination is a South Carolina beach.

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