Renting a house with a pool can be a lot of fun, but it's also a big responsibility. In addition to upkeep, landlords and tenants may both be potentially liable in the event of an accident or losses related to the pool. Both owners and renters have responsibilities for keeping the pool environment safe and for following state laws on pool safety. Landlords and tenants need to know exactly what aspects of pool safety they're each responsible for.
Pool Safety Act
State pool safety laws are usually based on the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. This 2007 law was named after former Secretary of State James Baker's granddaughter Virginia, who drowned when she was pinned to the bottom of a pool by the drain. The act sets out pool safety requirements for public pools. For example, the act requires all states to have laws requiring public pools to be enclosed by fencing and gates that small children can't open and to be fitted with devices that prevent children and adults from becoming trapped in pool drains. States also often have laws requiring residential pools to have similar features. For example, Texas local government code requires residential pools to be surrounded by a childproof fence. It's the landlord's responsibility to make sure the pool meets all state and federal safety requirements.
In certain states, such as California, the landlord has a duty of reasonable care to make sure the property is safe. The landlord is liable for any injuries caused by dangerous or hazardous conditions that he was aware of or should have known about. This means that the landlord is responsible for taking reasonable precautions to prevent accidents. For example, if a childproof fence around the pool is required by state law and the landlord didn't install this fence, he may be liable if a child is injured.
Renters and landlords should have a written agreement setting out who's responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the pool. The party who's responsible for maintenance and upkeep may be held liable for any accidents caused by failing to meet these responsibilities — this is called premises liability. Renters may also be held liable for not taking reasonable precautions to protect guests. For example, if a renter knows of a danger and doesn't warn guests, she may also be liable for injuries or losses.
Both landlords and renters should make sure they're adequately covered by insurance whenever they're renting out or renting a property with a pool. The insurance should specifically cover liability related to the pool. This may require specialized or additional insurance, as renters and homeowner's policies typically don't automatically protect against injuries or losses related to a swimming pool. Above-ground pools and inground pools may require different types of insurance. Your insurance company can advise you.
- Law and Legal Research: Texas Local Government Code — Section 214.101 — Authority Regarding Swimming Pool Enclosures
- The Reeves Law Group: Who Is Responsible for a Swimming Pool Drowning?
- National Swimming Pool Foundation: Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act
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- State of California Department of Consumer Affairs. "Contractors State License Board." Accessed April 25, 2020.
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Since graduating with a degree in biology, Lisa Magloff has worked in many countries. Accordingly, she specializes in writing about science and travel and has written for publications as diverse as the "Snowmass Sun" and "Caterer Middle East." With numerous published books and newspaper and magazine articles to her credit, Magloff has an eclectic knowledge of everything from cooking to nuclear reactor maintenance.