Summer is here and the rush to get the pool open is behind you – but now is the time for your HOA to think ahead to next season while the pool is still open. No other amenity in a residential community is enjoyed more or adds more resale value than a well maintained community swimming pool. A swimming pool can add to the value of the residences and attract prospective buyers. A pool is also an amenity that can bring the residents of a community together on a hot afternoon with the kids or for a 4th of July community celebration.
Managing and maintaining a community swimming pool is an investment in time, energy and money. In order for a community swimming pool to be safe, successful, and enjoyable, its management must address many issues including liability, usage regulations and maintenance. Proper management is the key to retaining a pool’s value. Here are some tips for HOA community pool management:
Community property managers play a key role in the day-to-day management and operation of the swimming pool. Their responsibilities range from obtaining the proper permits and licenses to training the staff on the pool rules and regulations.
Setting the Rules
It is vital for a community to set clear rules and guidelines for residents to follow when using the swimming pool. By setting a comprehensive set of rules and communicating the rules to all the residents, the community ensures the safety of its residents and reduces its liability.
The procedure for laying down rules and regulations governing swimming pools varies somewhat from community to community. In some instances, the HOA will meet and set the rules and regulations collectively. Other associations may adopt the rules and guidelines from other community pools or municipal pools.
Examples of Pool Rules include:
- Pool badges must be worn at all times, including while swimming. Residents must sign in at the lifeguard stand. If badge is not being worn, the resident will be asked to leave.
- A resident must accompany guests at all times.
- No running around the deck area. No diving or horseplay.
- An adult must accompany children under 12 years of age.
- No glass bottles or containers in the pool area.
- Any person with excessive sunburn, open blisters, cuts or bandages shall be denied admission.
These are just a sample of some of the rules a community can adopt to help safely manage activities in and around their pool. Whether your HOA comes up with the rules or adopts them from the township, Board of Health or a qualified third party—such as an independent consultant—the community has to make sure the rules are fair, clear and collectively reduce the chances of a mishap.
Rules do have to be judiciously formulated and applied, of course. Making rules too broad or too narrow can lead to legal problems for an association. If you have a question already remember to ask your community manager.
Staffing and Managing
It is crucial a pool be well maintained to prevent accidents from occurring. Proper maintenance also protects the pool from damage and prevents it from damaging the surrounding property. This is where professional pool management companies come in.
Professional pool management companies specialize in managing swimming pools and health club facilities for co-ops, condos and other residential communities—some even provide lifeguard and maintenance staffing. The majority of communities with pools use these companies, in part because of the reservoir of employees they provide, and also to reduce the burden on their managing agent.
Swimming pool management companies frequently train their own lifeguards and Certified Pool Operators (CPOs); by law there must a CPO at the pool, so it is very convenient for the lifeguard to have this certification. Lifeguards are also usually responsible for day-to-day maintenance of the pool.
One challenge with a community pool and the pool management company is maintaining the appropriate staffing levels. Many of the pool employees are transient. Consider lifeguards, for example. So how many people does it take to run a pool? There are many factors such as community size, pool size and the amount of money the HOA is willing to spend that will decide how many employees to hire.
One of the biggest advantages of using a swimming pool management company is that these companies are also insured and assume most, if not all, of the responsibility for the pool’s safety and cleanliness.
Insuring Your Investment
Contractors aren’t the only ones who need to secure the proper coverage. HOAs need to assess their risk and confer with their insurer to make sure the sparkling pool their residents enjoy so much isn’t setting them up for catastrophic loss. How much a pool actually impacts an association’s bottom line depends on the pool and how it’s rated. It definitely has impact, but it’s not necessarily a driving factor in their premium unless they have a large loss or extensive claims history.
Is All the Work Worth It?
Swimming pools involve plumbing, heaters, pumps and other technical equipment that may occasionally need repair. Many pool management companies do not handle extensive repairs themselves, but are responsible for contracting an outside company to do the work. Mechanical problems usually require immediate attention and can be quite costly—running anywhere from $500 to $30,000. In addition to the technical repairs and upkeep, there are other costs involved in maintaining a community pool.
When comparing the costs of maintaining and operating a pool against the benefits, many HOAs find that having a pool is worth the expense. For prospective residents, amenities such as a pool are very important. A well-designed and thoughtfully located pool enhances the aesthetics of the overall property. It is a great tool when it comes to marketing your property.
Manage and Maintain
While swimming pools may make for happy community residents, they are often a challenge to manage and maintain. But by forming a close working relationship with a pool management company and by taking proactive measures to make sure the pool is safe and healthy, the stressfulness of maintaining a swimming pool can be minimized. Pools are potentially dangerous and require a great deal of upkeep, but if the seriousness of these issues is addressed effectively, managers can provide residents with a high-quality pool environment while minimizing the headache factor for themselves.