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The ADA and your HOA’s pool and gym: What you need to know

On Behalf of | Apr 16, 2021 | Real Estate

As part of the homeowners association (HOA) board, you’ve put a lot of effort into creating a community atmosphere that’s welcoming and inviting. Your community even has a lot of amenities that aren’t available everywhere — like a pool or gym that residents can use.

Now, the board is considering opening up the gym and pool to the public — for a price. They figure that allowing friends and relatives of residents to buy a pass can bring in some much-needed revenue.

Is this a good idea? Maybe not.

The Americans with Disabilities Act and Similar State Law can apply when private perks become public

The ADA requires government facilities, most businesses and public facilities to comply with certain disability accommodations. Generally, however, HOAs provide only private amenities to their residents — not public facilities. This restrictive nature can shield them from the far more rigorous demands of ADA compliance.

That can change, however, if you open the doors to the general public such as then requiring to install a pool lift which can be costly to purchase and maintain. If, for example, you allow members of the public to buy passes to your HOA-run pool or gym — or even permit churches and school leagues to regularly use the facilities out of a generous community spirit — you also open the doors to a potential ADA lawsuit.

Suddenly, what stood to make a little money for the HOA to pay for the upkeep on the pool or gym can turn into an expensive requirement for modifications on the facilities to make them accessible to people with disabilities.

When you’re uncertain about your HOA’s rights, get assistance

Running a homeowners association isn’t easy. There are plenty of rules and regulations that you have to keep in mind, and it seems like every rule also comes with a few exceptions. With that in mind, it’s often wise to consult with an experienced attorney whenever you have concerns about potential legal liabilities. Hart Kienle Pentecost attorneys have more than 35 years assisting HOA’s with governance advice and litigation defense.