Following are some rule-writing dos and don'ts that will help keep you out of hot water, saving your association legal troubles and costly fines:
Don’t write rules about status or people; for example, rules applying only to children, teenagers, people with disabilities, etc. Do write rules about problem behaviors.
For example, don’t deny children access to the pool or pool area if a parent isn’t with them. Don’t outlaw only infants and kids who aren’t potty-trained from swimming in your pool. (What about adults who are incontinent?) In this case, do write policies that require people, in general, who are incontinent or not potty-trained to wear appropriate waterproof clothing in the pool.
Do create rules that get at the root of health and safety concerns.
Concerned about horseplay, roughhousing, bad language and unreasonably loud noise at the pool? Don’t refuse access to children and teens. Instead, do simply prohibit the unsafe behaviors: running on the pool deck, profanity, rough play and diving. Be sure to include language stating a consequence: for example, “violators will be asked to leave the pool and may lose access, possibly facing suspension of future use by the board of directors.”
Do watch your words! Don’t use these red flag words:
“child,” “children,” “parents,” “adult,” and any words having to do with age such as “ages” and “years old.”
Do be smart.
Want an adult swim time at your pool? Communities should not have “adult swim", because it’s a possible FHA violation to restrict only families or kids. However, you can have times for “lap-swimming” only. By mandating lap swimming only, you are likely not discriminating against children or families because they could also swim laps.
As if it weren’t complicated enough, there are state regulations that seem to contradict the FHA. For example, North Carolina requires swimming pools operating without a lifeguard to post a sign in a prominent place that reads: Children should not use the swimming pool without adult supervision. What should you do: Comply with NC law or federal FHA law? In many cases, federal law supersedes state law. It’s a challenge. Protect yourself: Consult your legal advisor for sound advice.
Don’t risk making a mistake that could cost your association $100,000 or more... Call AMG today—we will help you get qualified legal representation, before it is too late.
Information contained herein is not legal advice and should not be relied upon other than as general information, which may or may not apply to particular circumstances. Association Management Group encourages all communities with legal questions or concerns to consult with their attorneys for guidance. If you do not have a legal advisor, AMG can help you retain a qualified attorney.
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