Update Pool Rules in Preparation for Swim Season Fair Housing Compliance

A review of rules and regulations for pool usage is a must in preparation for swim season. Outdated pool rules may be in violation of fair housing laws.  Fair housing statutes at the state and federal level protect against familial status discrimination, which means families with children under the age of 18. Any rule entitled “Children,” raises a red flag to familial status discrimination and should be eliminated. Instead, the regulated activities should be incorporated under other existing rules without reference to age, or a rule for pool usage with no reference to children should be adopted.

Adult only swim time or pool usage has been construed as discriminatory.  Rules that address health and safety concerns and are not too broad are legal. A rule requiring adult supervision of children in the pool at all times is too broad.  The child under 18 could be a lifeguard (certification is available at age 15).  The child under 18 may be an excellent swimmer.  Instead, adopt a rule that requires adult supervision of a person without adequate swimming skills.  Someone over 18 may not have adequate swimming skills and may require supervision.

A minimum age requiring pool supervision is acceptable as long as it is tied to a health and safety concern. Some states have legislation addressing a minimum age, such as California, which has rules requiring supervision of anyone under the age of 14 with no lifeguard on duty.  Texas does not have a statewide age. Check with your city for any ordinances or rules.  For example, Plano requires that a person at least 16 years old must accompany anyone under the age of 7 at pools.   In Houston, anyone under the age of 8 must be supervised. Do not adopt rules that require a “parent” or “guardian” ’s supervision of children swimming, as other responsible persons are capable of supervision duties.

Fair housing laws also must be considered in regulating behavior in common areas as well.  Apply these same principles to avoid fair housing familial status discrimination with rules and regulations beyond pool usage.   An annual audit of governing documents is an effective way to maximize compliance.

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