Rules and Enforcement – the Answer to Problem Pool Behaviour

There are a number of benefits of living in a gated estate that makes them attractive to a wide demographic. Security is high on the list, having people in close proximity is a plus for extroverts, and the ability to share in the use of the communal facilities, without having to physically maintain them, is a major attraction. However, having the use of the communal facilities is not without its challenges, and disputes often arise unless there are clear and enforceable rules about access, behaviour and appropriateness of use. The other contentious issue that needs to be clearly explained is how the authority to manage these facilities is devolved.

The Council or body corporate is the entity with the authority to make rules and provide guidelines so that every resident has the expectation of “quiet enjoyment” of their dwelling. This is particularly important in shared and gated communities because of the number of people living in close proximity to each other. Many Councils employ professional strata management agencies to undertake the daily operational managementof their complexes, so while they have set down the rules, it may fall to the strata manager to enforce them.

Out of all the facilities offered by strata titled communities, communal swimming pools are the most contentious. There are three issues that cause most of the problems. The first is the differing expectations of use and behaviour arising from the age range of the residents. What is acceptable to a group of teenagers will most likely not suit retirees, for example. Second, if the majority of dwellings within the complex are not “owner occupied” e.g. holiday rentals, there is a continual flow of people unfamiliar with the rules using the pool. The third occurs because there is no clear signage setting out the acceptable uses of the pool.

The signage should come first, because it draws a line in the sand. It should show clearly what is not acceptable, and be signed under authority of the Council or body corporate. Once that is in place, it should just be a matter of informing everyone using the pool that these are the rules. The most important rule concerns the safety of young children and most Councils prohibit the use of the pool unless they are under adult supervision. Along the same lines, banning any glass inside the pool fence is a common rule for obvious reasons, as is the consumption of alcohol.

The hours of operation of the pool are another area which can give rise to disputes. People living in the complex who do shiftwork, for example, are not going to be happy with excessive noise if they are trying to sleep during the day. However, their needs must be balanced with the right of others to enjoy the pool, so banning noise through the day is not an acceptable solution. Cool heads and sensible negotiations are the answer to issues such as these.

Every problem has a solution if there is goodwill involved and the standard of behaviour around swimming pools is no exception. With clear rules and expectations from the Council, and a system to admonish those with flagrant disregard for the rights of others, everyone should be able to enjoy a swim in peace.