How To Enforce Pool Rules In A Self-Managed HOA

It is not uncommon to have pool rules in a self-managed HOA community. But, having rules isn't enough. An HOA board must also know how to enforce the association's pool rules.

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It is not uncommon to have pool rules in a self-managed HOA community. But, having rules isn’t enough. An HOA board must also know how to enforce the association’s pool rules.


Managing Pool Rules in a Self-Managed HOA

A homeowners association has a responsibility to create and enforce the rules in a community. This is much easier for professionally managed HOAs as there are managers and staff members who shoulder this responsibility. But, with self-managed associations, the burden usually falls on the board alone.

With virtually no help, it is definitely harder for self-managed associations to enforce pool rules (or any kind of rules). Sure, the board can rely on volunteer committee members, but that can open the HOA to a world of problems. Volunteer homeowners might go crazy with power and enforce the rules stricter than necessary. They are also more prone to selective enforcement, flagging people they dislike yet giving their friends a pass.

Still, self-managed boards should realize the importance of having and enforcing pool rules properly. In doing so, they can promote the safety of residents and reduce the risk of liability.


How to Enforce Pool Rules in a Self-Managed HOA

Rule enforcement is often easier said than done. But, if you have the proper tools and knowledge, your board can make the job a little more manageable. Here are some tips on how to enforce pool rules in your association.


1. Understand Your Community Pool

First, it is important to know your community pool like the back of your hand. Indoor pools may require rule variations that outdoor pools don’t and vice versa. Additionally, if you have a special kind of pool (like a wave pool), you will need special rules as well.

Certain features may also affect how you write your rules. For instance, if you have a diving board, you may need to regulate who can use the diving board and when. If you have shrubbery in the pool area, you might want to add a rule that prohibits residents from cutting the leaves or littering in the shrubs. The same goes for other features such as pool stairs, fountains, and waterfalls.


2. Communicate the Rules

It is important that all homeowners and residents understand the pool rules. As such, your board should communicate these rules using every method possible. Add them to the newsletter, especially during pool season, and post them on your community website. You should also effectively disseminate any new pool rules or changes to the existing ones.


3. Post the Rules in the Pool Area

Let’s face it — try as you may, not everyone is going to read the newsletter or the community website. Therefore, it’s equally important to post the rules in the pool area itself. If you have to elaborate on a particular rule, do so. Even if the rules seem self-explanatory, some residents may still misinterpret them. Additionally, if there is no lifeguard, post a sign that says, “No lifeguard on duty.”


4. Hire a Lifeguard or Install a Camera

Hiring a lifeguard is a good way to ensure the safety of pool goers. A lifeguard can enforce the rules of the pool while making sure no one gets hurt. But, not all associations have the budget to hire a lifeguard. In that case, a good alternative is to install security cameras in the pool area.

Security cameras are great because they can capture any rule violations that may occur. Of course, you may need to hire someone to monitor the cameras live. Alternatively, you can always just keep the recordings in the cloud or on an internal server.

When installing security cameras, make sure not to violate privacy laws. You should never have cameras in places where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy. These include bathrooms and locker rooms.


5. Decide on Non-Member Use

Most homeowners associations only allow residents and their guests to use the common facilities, including the pool. If you intend to open the pool to the general public, you should know that it might cause some problems for your association. You will need to monitor more people and make sure they don’t violate the pool rules or damage HOA property. Some homeowners may also feel that it will take away some of the exclusivity of the community.

On the other hand, if you decide to only open the pool to residents and their guests, you will need to add enforcement policies. Set a standard procedure for dealing with non-members and how owners can report suspicions of non-member use. Which board member can they go to? Do they have to file a complaint or submit a form?

A good way to stop non-members from pool use is to have someone at the entrance check IDs. Of course, this will also require a board member to fulfill this post during pool season. Alternatively, the HOA can hire an employee to do this.


6. Adopt a Fine System

The most effective method of enforcement is to adopt a fine system. When a homeowner violates a pool rule, they will need to pay a fine. Every violation carries a different dollar amount as a penalty, with more serious violations commanding a higher price. It is also a good idea to increase the fines for each succeeding offense.

Keep in mind that not all associations have the power to impose fines. Make sure to check your state laws and governing documents to confirm whether or not your board has the authority to do this.


Common Pool Rules in a Self-Managed HOA

From basic pool safety rules to rules banning illegal activity, here are some of the most common pool rules in a self-managed community:

  • No running on the pool deck.
  • No swimming alone.
  • No diving.
  • No swimming under the influence.
  • No peeing in the pool.
  • No pushing.
  • No glass bottles or containers in the pool area.
  • No electrical devices on the pool deck.
  • No smoking.
  • No littering.
  • No shouting.
  • No swimming during inclement weather (for outdoor pools).
  • No inappropriate behavior, physical or verbal.
  • No pets.
  • No drug-related activity.
  • Always watch your children.
  • Wear proper swimming attire.
  • Shower before swimming.


A Good Place to Start

Enforcing pool rules in a self-managed HOA can come as a challenge to board members. But, with the right mindset and enough guidance, any board can successfully implement the rules of their community pool.



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