Oh, Poo(l) – Going Off the Deep End

Going Off the Deep End

It may be more difficult than ever, even if you can swim, to keep your head above water in the deep end of the swimming pool, at least from a legal perspective. I am aware of at least three States (North Carolina, California and New Hampshire) where state/local authorities are attempting to apply the Americans with Disabilities Act to non-public areas of apartment communities. The ADA applies to places of public accommodation (think restaurants, movie theaters, grocery stores, as well as leasing offices) where the public comes to transact business – in our case, to see about renting an apartment. Generally the ADA does not apply, other than for the leasing office, at an apartment community (the Fair Housing Act certainly does, but that is another story). But some misguided authorities are saying that because your residents can invite guests to join them at the pool, this makes the pool “public” (many others, including folks with NAA and NMHC disagree) and are imposing now (as in “must have accomplished” in the next weeks) a requirement that apartment communities install pool lifts to allow folks with disabilities to be able to get into the pool. You ought to find out what may be going on in your area, and get your attorneys and your apartment associations involved – ASAP. Left unaddressed this issue could become “status quo” and thus you could find yourself with a significant, unbudgeted, unplanned expense, coming at you fast like a wave (I know, pools usually do not have waves, except for wave pools which are almost always in public venues, so yes, wave pools probably need lifts).

At a recent dinner meeting of the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association (a great group of folks, by the way), Tammy brought up a clever idea that you may wish to share with attorneys…what if you make the use of your pool subject to a “membership”?  All residents desiring to use the pool would pay $1 to become pool members with guest privileges.  Would this be a buffer against the “public” definition that seems to be gaining traction?

Be aware if you care…and if you are hearing this in your market, please share. (That rhymes!)

Nadeen Green is Senior Counsel with For Rent Media Solutions and teaches fair housing to our industry (more than 1000 programs, and lots of articles and blogs for the past 20+ years).

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