A five-step process for better behavior at your community pool

By Laura Otto
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Q.  We keep getting complaints about neighbor behavior at our community pool. It’s driving us crazy — the pool is supposed to be fun, but it’s become a sore spot at meetings. What can the board do to reign in some of the offenders?

Who doesn’t love a community pool? I love this question, first because it reminds me of summer, but second because it reminds me that the best way for everyone to enjoy the pool is an agreed-upon set of pool rules. It’s the perfect time of year to start thinking about how to set the pool up for everyone’s safety and enjoyment.

To get some perspective on how to create and revise pool rules, we spoke with Dwayne Lowry, CMCA, AMS, general manager of New Territory Residential Community Association in Sugar Land, Texas.

Create Rules that Cover It All. HOA board members and community managers need to make sure their pool rules are comprehensive, covering everything from guests, children, swimwear, slides, diving boards, and even smoking and cellphones. Lowry’s community, New Territory, bans smoking at its pools for the comfort and health of all. 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,” Lowry said.

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.

Create Rules that are Fair and Legal. 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.

Follow Basic Principles to Write Rules.

  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.
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Go Overboard on Education. 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,” Lowry said.

Enforce the Rules. Whether you’ve got new or long-time residents, the rules need to be enforced to be effective.  How can rules be enforced? “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,” Lowry said, explaining what happens to New Territory’s pool rule breakers.

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

Visual Sidebar: Pool maintenance at your community association

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Laura Otto

Laura Otto is editor of CAI’s award-winning Community Manager. A seasoned journalist, Laura previously worked for a creative, advocacy agency in Washington, D.C., where she wrote and edited content for a variety of public health clients. Prior to that, Laura served as a senior writer and editor for the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Laura is a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia.