Residents Objecting to Safety Precautions at Pool
My client is having a problem with the residents of a commercial pool account, who complain about everything he does including padlocking the gate when he drains the pool. They insist on having keys to the equipment room and he’s concerned about someone getting hurt around the equipment. The property manager seems intimidated by the residents and is asking him for written proof that these safety precautions are legally required. He really doesn’t want to lose the account, but he doesn’t want to be responsible if someone gets hurt.
No one ever said pool service was easy and the pool tech is in a tough situation. I recommend that he presents the property manager an updated service agreement that includes the services and the monthly rate, as well as list of conditions required of the property management company. The agreement should state, for example: “access to the pool equipment room will be limited to property manager, maintenance staff and swimming pool service company”. “Pool gates will be maintained in good working condition and not disabled”. Be very specific. When challenged by the residents he can point to the service agreement that has been authorized by the property manager. If the management refuses to sign the service agreement I’d drop the account.
I completely understand the problem after 35 years of commercial pool service I encountered many situations where individuals, usually board members with minimal skills, acquired access to the equipment area. One case where the board president continually raised the temp of the spa above the 104 limit for his own personal use and occasionally forgot to turn it down when he was done. He fully admitted it when I spoke to him and clearly explained the risk to other users and his own liability risk for violating the health code, management spoke to him also although I’m unaware if they created a paper trail. As board president he was entitled to a key according to management. We had a death in the spa that summer, an older man with heart and diabetes health problems, the health dept determined the spa was 106 using their capillary thermometer. The board president called me and asked if we had a problem, he was clearly shaken. I met the health dept at the spa along with the M.E a few minutes later. It was determined that the spa was only 104 as my digital medical grade thermometer agreed with the M.E who was using his own similar thermometer. The health dept did a complete inspection of the pool/spa and surrounding area and found no violations. At this point, I’m off the hook and so is the board president. Cause of death was determined to be accidental due to existing health issues. So, Ray, I never did get you involved in this but you can see how this could have gone much differently. This was an account I did the start up on and kept for the next 30 years until I retired, I lived just a few blocks away and they never questioned repairs of price and always paid on time, really a great customer. By the way, that president finished his term that year and moved and no board member entered the equipment room unattended after that. This situation brought up additional questions that to my knowledge have never been completely resolved. The operating permit for the pool is issued to the homeowners association and the management company is their legal agent within the guidelines of the CC&R’s. The pool service company is an independent contractor with well defined areas of responsibility and hopefully some exclusions. The California Code for pool operations ( I think it’s title 22) requires someone with the skill set to operate the pool within the stat guidelines have complete authority over the pool. You see the disconnect, management claims authority, the HOA is the e legal entity but both lack the required skill set. Opinions welcome.
I would simply tell the property management that they should pull out their own insurance policy and review the guidelines set forth in the policy requiring that the supply room be locked and the gate lock be in working order. All it takes is for a child to get into the supply room where there are toxins or get injured in the pool because the lock was broke. It’s also in the tenants lease that it is the property managements obligation to keep the complex and common areas a safe environment for the payment tenant. A timid property manager should be a concern for the property owner since he will be called into a lawsuit as well over the negligence from the management. The pool company locks up when he leaves what happens after that I dont feel should cast a blame on him.