A Landlord’s Guide to Swimming Pool Maintenance and Liability

Written on April 26, 2017 by , updated on April 28, 2017

Pool MaintenancePools require a surprising amount of maintenance, so if a pool is part of your rental property, it’s important to know who’s in charge of maintenance.

It’s not just about whether the pool looks good, it’s about hygiene and safety. Landlords should consider these issues carefully before handing over the keys.

What Can Go Wrong?

A poorly maintained pool creates liabilities for the landlord and can make the property on which it’s located a less desirable place to live. It can affect children, neighbors, and renters alike.

1. Drowning Accidents

When it comes to small children, an open pit full of water can be an accident waiting to happen. According to a 2013 report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 390 children drown in swimming pools or spas every year. In fact, drowning is the number one cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Most communities require childproof fencing with a locking gate. This fencing isn’t just for kids; it prevents unauthorized access by guests and trespassers. Even someone unauthorized to swim in the pool can potentially sue the property owner in the event of an accident, so it’s obviously in the landlord’s best interest to keep this fence in good repair and make sure it stays locked when the pool isn’t being used.

2. Health Hazards

As chlorine levels fall, algae and other organisms turn the water a sickly green color. Filtration system failure can also cause this. Once algae have become established, the pool may have to be drained and refilled before it’s safe for swimming. Dirty water affects pool usability, and it can become a liability for the landlord if children and pets can access the water and get sick as a result.

3. A Huge Eyesore

A swimming pool full of brackish water is a terrible eyesore, which interferes with enjoyment of the yard. Who wants to attend a summer barbecue party next to a disgusting pool?

What’s Involved with Pool Maintenance?

Keeping the pool water clean and refreshingly blue is serious business. Someone has to test the water and add chemicals as needed. Moreover, someone has to physically remove debris, such as leaves and branches, and monitor the filtration and heating systems. Pool maintenance also involves ensuring that the pool decking remains free of obstructions and doesn’t become a slipping hazard. Some tasks should be performed weekly. They include:

  • Physically removing debris, both from the surface of the water and the bottom of the pool
  • Maintaining chlorine levels or — if it’s a saltwater pool — salt levels
  • Checking the water level and adding more if needed
  • Checking the filter pressure and backwashing if necessary

Monthly tasks include:

  • Testing for water hardness (calcium content), pH, dissolved solids, and total alkalinity — and adding chemicals as needed
  • Cleaning the pool filter
  • Checking the operation of the pump and motor

You can view a complete list of pool maintenance tasks here.

Liability Issues

A landlord renting a property with a swimming pool can potentially be liable for any death or injury that results from people using the pool. Landlords have a duty to keep their properties safe for habitation, and if an accident happens, a court can hold a landlord negligent for failing to rectify a known dangerous condition, such as slippery decking material or a broken fence. Read more about liability — as well as other swimming pool issues — here.

This doesn’t mean the landlord is responsible for every accident that happens around a pool. Renters can also be negligent if they fail to keep the fence locked and the pool deck clear of obstructions, especially if the landlord has provided them with a safety brochure, which is a must-do. The landlord is probably responsible, however, if all the following conditions are met:

  • He fails to make a necessary repair within a reasonable amount of time, and the repair is not unreasonably expensive.
  • The accident is a direct result of the failure to make the repair.
  • The accident was foreseeable.

Put It in the Lease

Some communities require a certified specialist to perform pool maintenance, and hiring the company is the landlord’s job. Moreover, some neighborhood associations have rules specifying aesthetic standards for swimming pools, and meeting those standards is up to the landlord. It’s always up to the landlord to keep the pool safe, but in the absence of community rules, not necessarily to keep it beautiful. As long as professional service is not mandated, the landlord can delegate routine maintenance to the tenant, much like cutting the grass or shoveling snow. The place to make this clear — and to specify tasks — is in the lease.

The Pool Addendum

Chores and responsibilities should be specified in an addendum that covers the use of the pool and spa. The main points to include are:

  • Tenants use the pool at their own risk.
  • The landlord should be notified immediately if something needs to be fixed.
  • Users must comply with manufacturer instructions and recommendations when using the pool equipment.
  • The gate must be locked and the pool deck free of obstructions.
  • If you elect to allow tenants to perform routine maintenance, such as adding chlorine and removing debris, all such maintenance tasks should be specified.

You may consider it worth the expense to draw up this addendum with a lawyer, but if you prefer to do it yourself, here is a sample agreement (scroll down).  You could also do a google search for an addendum, but please make sure you have a lawyer review it before using the clause.

Multifamily Dwellings

When a pool is part of a multifamily rental, it’s a semi-public facility, and as such, all maintenance tasks belong to the landlord. It’s possible to offer the job of maintaining the pool to one of the renters in exchange for a rent reduction, but it’s safer — and probably won’t cost much more — to hire a pool maintenance company. Professional maintenance ensures timely and competent pool care and could prevent a visit by the local health authority.

There’s a lot to keeping a swimming pool safe and beautiful, with plenty of opportunities for renters and landlords to work together. It’s often easier for everyone, however, if you call in the pros.

Have you had some experience with pool maintenance issues? We’d love to hear from you in the Comments section below.

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56 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Marie

    I live a apartment for 3 years with swimming pool for all tenants and one day the owner or manager decider without noticed and closed the pool and built a office at this place no more pools what I must do because the contrat shows utilities

  • justin

    i rent and i purchased a pool my landlord says i cannot keep the pool because its not covered under there insurance. never heard of this before its a above ground intex pool 24 feet around 52 inches deep please let me know if this is true or false.

    • John Doe

      Your landlord is most likely correct. That pool is a serious liability concern, and even though he may not have provided it, he could still be responsible for allowing it to exist on the land that he owns.

  • john doe

    Would like to know thoughts on having the pool maintained weekly (landlord pays), when the tenant pays the high electrical bills & water costs to maintain?? In addition to the already high rent? Why does the tenant have to be bothered weekly with a new person from the pool company (we know nothing about) entering their private residence (with tons of valuables)for maintenance that can occur every other week or monthly? Isn’t there some right to privacy regarding maintenance of pools? Id gladly pay for the pool maintenance myself if it meant the landlord didn’t use the pool people to check up on one person who prefers peace and quiet and much less communication with the landlord?!

  • Shireen

    I just moved into a home with a pool and jacuzzi, with the expectations of using them both. The pool guy says the heater does not work. My landlord said he won’t fix the heater. Does this fall under the expectation of something he should fix or I can fix and withhold from my rent? I’m in Southern California.

  • Eriberto Monroy

    My pool has been a swamp since September and just barely today when I got home someone started working on it. No notice no door knock just walked in I guess. Should I be mad? Especially since the rent renewal was in February and was raised again

  • Cindy

    Yesterday a leasing agent at my apartment complex told me that the recently installed new pool filters were defective and would be replaced. He said that the pool would be shut down for quite awhile until new filters were installed.

    Today I noticed that a family with young children was swimming. There is no notice on the pool about it being closed for repairs.

    I left a voicemail for the leasing staff suggesting that a notice should be posted (they never answer their phone). As of tonight there is still no notice on the pool. Should I contact the health department? The untreated pool will affect everyone if it attracts mosquitoes, as well.

  • Maria

    My landlord has closed the pool and even built a new fence in front blocking it . It’s summer time so super hot out . I was wondering can they just close it and not allow access ? Can I contact someone that can possibly get the pool up and running ? I’ve seen a lot of kiddos here that would enjoy the pool so close to home
    Thank you

  • Ben Zollenkopf

    I signed the lease for an apartment in March this year. There are two pools which are included in this rental, both right in front of our patio and they were a good reason for us to decide to go with this apartment unit. The property management told us that the pool season will start in May.
    Both pools are still closed because of issues which showed up already during the past year. We were not informed about these issues when we signed our lease contract.
    It’s June already and there is still nobody working on these pools.
    I complained this inconvenience and the management informed every tenant that they are waiting for better weather to fix the issues and offered passes for free entrance to a public pool which is 15 miles away and not nice.

  • barbara harris

    my apartment has a pool and 6 months ago my land lady gave our pool keys to the other apartment complex to people who do not rent here i am so upset and no one is hearing this and doing anything about our rights here as tenants they are not tenants here please help

  • Tommy F Simmons

    I bought a rental house, need to know how to take care of salt pool. How to get licensed to take care of pool. People here are scarring me. Can I take care of my pool and my rental pool.

  • LILIA Ortiz

    Our landlord has not had the pool maintained in over a month. The pool is dirty and the water and filter needs to be replaced however not only is the landlord not maintaining the pool but he has allowed tenants from the apartment complex to utilize the pool as well that is well over 50 family units. Conditions alof the pool are very unsanitary and I feel they pose a health safety. What should I do?

  • Shanna Holly

    I live at a very large apartment complex in Nevada with five pools. One pool looks mostly clear, but three look merky to the point that I can’t see the bottom. I worry about what’s going on, but the property management won’t say anything… Sometimes they open these pools for swimmers! Could I report them to the Health Department? There has to be a problem with merky water & allowing people to swim in it! Can I buy any kind of tester kit to test the water myself for things like the pH, cryptosporidium or algae? They just raised our rent $50, too! I just don’t feel like I have all of the amenities available to me.

  • Jo Ann Moore-Dougherty

    Our apartment complex pool has had sand or dirt and debris mostly all around the edges of the pool and the inside sides of the pool (where the labeling of the depth is)has a grime and black film all the way around the pool from the water level to the top edge of the pool that has to be scraped off. this has been going on for several weeks andI am afraid to swim in it or allow my children to swim in it. The pool was closed recently but we were not notified until it reopened and not informed of what the problem had been. I went over to check it today and the dirty condition remains the same. Is this something that could be reported to the city or county health?

    I have been here for 5 summers and I have never seen it in this condition.

  • michael webster

    Hi, i bought an above ground 5 foot tall pool and installed at my rental house; my landlord is saying that i dint ask for permission and their insurance company said that i need to remove it or they wont be covered.. is this true? cant i just pay to have isnruance to keep this pool?

  • Stephanie Mattox

    I’m a tenant at Serene At Riverwood apartments. The swimming pool is ALWAYS a DISGUSTING mess. Due to the extremely hot weather in Georgia tenants complained about the pool not being opened on the date specified, May 31, 2019. The management always gave the same response, “It’ll be open soon.” Well the pool finally opened at the end of June, but was soon closed for some reason or another. Three weeks passed without pool being cleaned, algae could be seen growing in the pool, there is no bathroom available for tenants, children are using the pool and pool shower as a restroom, and there are clothes and cigarette butts left lying around the area for weeks. To them cleaning the pool is pouring in bottles of chlorine and walking away. NASTY!

  • Greg Kurzner

    Pool safety is so important, especially when it comes to rental properties. As one of the most sought after amenities, having a pool is a great way to boost rent rates and attract top notch tenants. But the reality is, pools can be dangerous. Not to mention, they need a lot of maintenance that is either going to fall onto you or your tenants. I believe all leases should have a specific set of provisions to ensure the safety of your tenants and their guests. It also important your tenants understand that they’re responsible for maintaining the pool and equipment. Just make sure you collect a security deposit to help offset any costs should you have problems with your pool at the end of a tenancy.

  • Peter parker

    Thanks! actually I wanted to know some more information about pools management and this article has helped me in understanding this. Keep Writing!

  • Andrew

    The article has a beneficiary content, which has helped me a lot in understanding Pools management and its services. It seems very informative blog. read more http://usapoolsmd.com/

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