This article was submitted by Monique Young, Attorney, Koglmeier Smith, P.L.C.
There is nothing more luxurious to potential renters than the lure of an on-site swimming pool. Apartment prices are often higher in buildings with pools because they are viewed as a fun and relaxing amenity. The presence of a pool, however, isn’t all “fun in the sun.” Recently, the state of Arizona has passed legislation regarding pool safety in response to the increased drowning among young children in this state. If housing providers do not comply with this legislation they face the imposition of fines, or worse, they are at increased risk for personal injury lawsuits under the principles of premises liability law. Below are some helpful tips single and multi-family housing providers can implement to ensure pool safety and also limit liability associated with having a pool on the premises.
Tips for Single Family Housing
The presence of a barrier around the pool is an important aspect of pool maintenance that minimizes the potential for accidents. It is of no coincidence that the correct construction of “pool barriers” forms a large part of the newly enacted state legislation regarding pool safety. Under Arizona law, those who sell, rent, or lease a dwelling with a swimming pool must give the buyer, lessee or renter a notice explaining safety education and responsibility of pool ownership. The notice provides detailed procedures that when followed minimize the risk of accidents at a pool. Some important aspects of the notice are highlighted below[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]:
- Barriers must entirely enclose the pool area and must be at least 6 feet high.
- Barriers cannot have openings, handholds or footholds that can be used to climb the barrier.
- A barrier should have no openings through which a sphere 4 inches in diameter can pass.
- Barriers should be at least 20 inches from the water’s edge.
- Barriers should prevent direct access from the house to the pool.
- Gates must be self-closing and self-latching or be secured by a padlock or similar device which requires a key, electronic opener, or integral combination.
- Gates must open outward from the pool.
- Emergency escape or rescue windows from sleeping rooms with access to the pool should be equipped with a latching device.
- If a wall of a home forms part of the barrier, one of the following must be used:
- A barrier at least 4 feet high between the home and the pool, which otherwise meets all the requirements for a barrier set forth above.
- A motorized, safety pool cover which does not require manual operation other than the use of a key switch.
- Self latching devices on all doors with direct access to the pool.
Tips for Multi-family Housing
For a building to successfully manage a swimming pool, it must address many issues including liability, usage regulations, and maintenance. Proper management insures that the pool will be safe and enjoyable for everyone, while limiting liability. To this end, it is crucial that buildings have clear-cut guidelines for the use of pool facilities. The following are rules that a housing provider can post to place a degree of responsibility on the swimmer to look after his or her own safety:
- Minors must be accompanied by an adult
- Individuals using the pool must strictly abide by the hours of use
- Parties are subject to guidelines which include restrictions as to number of people, hours, use, objects brought into the pool area, etc.
- No stereo equipment or speakers are permitted in the pool area
- All garbage and debris should be removed by the individuals responsible for it
- There are to be no active sports, running, ball playing, etc.
- No glass containers
Posting warning signs around the pool helps to keep lawsuits at bay; however, warning signs are only one method to reduce liability. In addition to posting warning signs by the pool, the most important thing a housing provider can do to protect itself from liability is to have all residents sign a waiver of liability and indemnity. By signing these forms, residents agree not to hold the housing provider liable for accidents, thefts or damages that occur in the pool facilities. However, these waivers do not completely protect housing providers from lawsuits, particularly if there is evidence of negligence on the part of the housing provider. In that regard, it is crucial that the pool be well maintained, to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place.
 This summary of the notice does not encompass all of the requirements needed to actually comply with Arizona Statute regarding pool safety. For a complete copy of the notice to be given to individuals renting, buying or leasing a property with a pool, please contact Koglmeier Smith P.L.C. for more information.