Did you ever read the standard set of state mandated pool rules? They are meant to address health and safety considerations and are often directed at children (or childish adults). For the most part the rules are, like, “Duh, who doesn’t know that?” But they seem to be needed because there is something about playing in water that brings out silly, loud and obnoxious behavior in some.

Homeowners associations have additional challenges when it comes to the pool. Consider these all too common occurrences: One of the big bugaboos is certain “guests” that use the pool. As it turns out, these folks may not be guests at all, just gate crashers. Then there are the former residents that feel right at home coming back to take advantage of the amenities. Then there are the grandkids who cavort from dawn’s early light to the setting of the sun...but where are their grandparents? How about those midnight swims “a la natural”? And don’t forget Rover...he’s a water spaniel!

Trying to control some kinds of pool behavior can be downright maddening. But fortunately, as a private community, the HOA can set additional rules that fit with the lifestyle of the residents and to protect the viability of the facility and privacy of the members. Since this isn’t a public facility, and the HOA does have legal liability for what goes on there, it’s entirely appropriate to make rules when necessary. These rules can carry penalties imposed by the HOA. One of the most effective penalties is restricting access to the pool backed up by monetary fines if the restriction is violated. Holding residents directly responsible for the actions of their guests is essential to minimize policing.

Not all bad pool behavior can be controlled by rules or penalties. Don’t overlook the use of police if dealing with trespassers or drunk and disorderly behavior. Professional law enforcement does have its place.

With pool season coming on, consider adopting a special set of rules if necessary. Rather than have them carry an authoritarian tone, preface them with a statement like, “This pool is here for the enjoyment of all residents. The following activities disrupt that common enjoyment. This is your pool. Please do your part to keep the peace.” When it comes to rules at the pool, let the pool rule.

For more on rulemaking, see "Sample Policies".

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