Did you know that California recently changed its laws concerning the maintenance, rules, and regulations on HOA pools? With HOAs in every state, it could be only a matter of time before these laws are adopted in other states. There are currently over 350,000 Homeowners Associations in the United States and approximately 20 more are created every day. With Florida having the largest number of HOAs in the Nation, could your state be next?
First, What is an HOA?
An HOA (Homeowners Association) is a self-governing organization in “common-interest” communities where homeowners collectively pay fees to maintain the units or neighborhood. HOAs are typically run by resident homeowners elected to a board of directors that oversee the HOA’s management.
An HOA can consist of individual houses, townhouses, high-rises, or condos, and the responsibilities of the HOA can vary based on the property type. An HOA for a condo development may oversee the management of the entire property, whereas an HOA for a townhouse community may only be in charge of common areas, for instance. For more on what an HOA is, theres' a great article here.
Many people choose to live in a community where an HOA is present because it covers all maintenance and groundskeeping and goes towards shared facilities such as gyms, parks and you guessed it...swimming pools. These pools are very appealing to families that don’t want to fork up the cash to build their own swimming pool. If you are from or have ever been to California you know that a lot of backyards are the size of a postage stamp and cannot even house a pool. HOAs can also be somewhat strict. They can govern when you have to bring your trash cans in, where you can park, how your yard must be kept, when you can put up ( and must take down) holiday decorations, etc. These regulations are intended to keep the neighborhoods safe and looking nice. This usually comes with a hefty fee. Let’s talk about what that looks like regarding the bodies of water within an HOA community.
Since HOA pools & spas are being considered “public pools’ the requirements for operating them and maintaining them are changing.
Probably the most notable changes to HOA Pools are those that mandate:
- New parameters for water chemistry*
- STRICT* monitoring of pool facilities and requirements for keeping records*
- Enforcement of specific safety and first aid
- Requirements that newly constructed public pool enclosures have at least 1 (one) keyless exit and self-closing latches
- The imposition of health restrictions for both operators and bathers.*
HOA pools are a great alternative to individual backyard pools but can be especially risky if not properly maintained by the pool operators and maintenance team.
* Pool Shark H20 can help with these
What Are the Changes to HOA Pool Management?
So, in California HOAs containing 25 or more separate properties must test pool and spa water chemical composition and temperature DAILY and keep a DAILY log per 22 CCR 65523(a). Daily public pool testing can be performed using an automatic chemical monitoring control system if approved by the health department. It must also be properly calibrated. This can vary from region to region. Daily testing with a spin touch or reagents is also allowed.
Pool testing records must be recorded DAILY. For HOAs with fewer than 25 properties, pool testing must be done at least 2 (two) times a week and at intervals no more than 4 (four) days apart. (Health & Safety Code 116048(a). This can be accomplished easy-peasy with the Pool Shark H20 app. HOAs should always look for the recommended guidelines set by that region's local health department. The Model Health Aquatic Code (MAHC) is also an imperative resource, but bear in mind the guidelines are in the process of changing.
HOA Pool Safety Equipment
Another change is requiring the same safety and first aid equipment on HOA Pools as you will find on other commercial pools. Some examples are having proper signage, secure handrails, a non-damaged pool surface, a 12’ minimum length rescue pole, and a 17” minimum life ring with an attached throw rope having a minimum of 3/16” diameter per Health and safety code 22 CCR 65540(a). You may also have to have a 911 phone. The gates should be tall enough and the spaces narrow enough to disable anyone from entering the pool other than the self-latching gate.
HOA Pool Health Restrictions
It used to be that only people with diarrhea needed to avoid swimming in the pool/spa. With Covid-19 now part of our daily vernacular it now includes ANY kind of sickness or ailment. These include, but are not limited to cough, fever, cold sore, ear discharge (What? Gross!), or when wearing bandages per 22 CCR 65541(b). Ever had a bandaid get stuck to you while swimming? It is literally one of the grossest things I have experienced.
HOA Pools can be Risky Business
With HOA pools becoming necessary to be treated like commercial pools, we now have the same risks associated. These risks are the same as residential pools, but as those are not regulated we will leave that up to monthly maintenance pool techs. Many HOAs are now turning to hire a pool company to avoid the hassle and liability of maintaining the pool themselves. This is an expensive option and doesn’t leave you in the clear. Pool companies typically come only a few times a week so you are not off the hook. Having them come daily just increases the cost and thus increases the need for HOA fees to be increased. If an HOA decides to switch pool companies, the logs could be lost since the former company is no longer responsible for them. Bummer.
Running a community swimming pool without prior experience of commercial guidelines can impose certain risks. Too many chemicals, not enough chemicals, combined chlorine, unbalanced water, not keeping proper logs, not testing, not knowing how to handle an AFR (accidental fecal release), and other water-related issues. Fortunately, the Pool Shark H20 can make pool maintenance not only doable but done correctly. There are even steps outlined to help with an AFR.
Pool Shark H20, To the HOA Pool Rescue!
Testing the water can be time-consuming and difficult for operators, especially those who are not properly trained. The AI in the Pool Shark H20 app can make testing and maintaining the water hassle-free. Since HOAs are now (or soon to be considered) a commercial pool, why not use a commercial-grade product like the Pool Shark H20. It allows you to test as often as required and saves your results. It becomes a virtual logbook. A pool company can be given access to your Pool Shark H2O account for logging water chemical levels. This provides the advantage of keeping your pool logs all in one place and also knowing exactly when they were at your pool. SInce logbooks can be lost or damaged due to multiple users, the Pool Shark app allows for multiple, unlimited users to access the pool logs from unique accounts. These accounts can also be deactivated when not being used. It is literally THE most efficient way to a more efficient system. Safety is always the goal. Let’s keep all of our pools safe!
See you poolside!.