Have you had your pool rules reviewed by legal counsel?
With pool season underway, it is important to make sure that your community pool rules do not expose your association to liability.
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits housing providers from discriminating based on a protected class, including “familial status.” The purpose of the law is to protect every American’s fundamental right to fair housing, including families with children. That includes the use of amenities.
Community associations (including HOAs, POAAs and Condominiums) are subject to the FHA and must be careful not to run afoul of its protections. One of the most common ways that associations—and their board members and managers—find themselves in hot water under the FHA is by denying families with children equal use of the common areas through a rule or restriction, including pool rules that target children.
Facially discriminatory pool rules, such as an “adults only” pool or swim time, are rather obvious violations. However, some seemingly harmless rules can be discriminatory in their application.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) does generally recognize that children 12 and under do not appreciate the dangers of swimming pools and therefore does allow some reasonable regulation of children 12 and under if the purpose of the rule is directly related to protecting the health, safety and welfare of the child. There are also some exceptions for age-restricted communities. However, since HUD has not published any “model” pool rules, attorneys must evaluate each rule based on the decisions in cases throughout the country.
Pool rules must also comply with county codes and municipal ordinances, which vary throughout the State.
Accordingly, all associations should have their pool rules periodically reviewed by legal counsel to confirm that they are in line with current decisions and local law.
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