I have recently purchased 2 SF homes in Scottsdale, AZ, and they each have a pool. I have never owned a SF home with a pool. I am wondering about liability as far as the pool is concerned, as I am in the process of renting each of these houses to families.
One is a family of 3, with a 9 y.o.. They informed my agent that their child knows how to swim very well, and they were not concerned at all about it.
The other family has a 2 y.o. and an infant. I am waiting to hear back from my agent's inquiry into their feeling about having very small children in a house with a pool.
I do not want to install a fence around either pool, but am fine if the tenant wants to buy and use a portable fence. I also removed a diving board from one of the pools, as the insurance company I wanted to use would not even write a policy with a diving board installed.
In the meantime, I would like to know your thoughts on this, as far as how you may have handled a situation like this, or maybe an insurance expert that can give me advice on what coverage I need to have to protect myself? Can I add language into the contract to relieve myself of any liability in the worst case of a (gulp) fatal accident?
In the worst case scenario, a contractual clause will probably not prevent litigation, time, expense, and hassle. I would consider an umbrella insurance policy to cover EVERYTHING related to the property. I understand you are hesitant to install fences, but this could also be a HUGE factor in avoiding liability.
Scottsdale’s current swimming pool barrier requirements apply to all single-family residential swimming pools, spas and hot tubs constructed after July 20, 1995.
Since the requirements are not retroactive, pools constructed prior to July 15, 1992, need only comply with the 54” perimeter yard fencing and gate requirement in effect at the time. Pools constructed from July 15, 1992, until July 20, 1995, must meet the current requirements, except perimeter fence height, which was 54” (4’-6”) at the time.
An outdoor swimming pool, including an in-ground, above-ground or on-ground pool, spa or hot tub, shall be surrounded by a barrier which shall comply with the following:
1. The top of the barrier shall be at least 5 feet (1,524 mm) above grade measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. The maximum vertical clearance between grade and the bottom of the barrier shall be 2 inches (51 mm) measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. Where the top of the pool structure is above grade, such as an above-ground pool, the barrier may be at ground level, such as the pool structure, or mounted on top of the pool structure. Where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, the maximum vertical clearance between the top of the pool structure and the bottom of the barrier shall be 4 inches (102 mm).
2. Openings in the barrier shall not allow the passage of a 4-inch-diameter (102 mm) sphere.
3. Solid barriers which do not have openings, such as a masonry or stone wall, shall not contain indentations or protrusions, except for normal construction tolerances and tooled masonry joints.
4. Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members, and the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is less than 45 inches (1,143 mm), the horizontal members shall be located on the swimming pool side of the fence. Spacing between vertical members shall not exceed 1¾ inches (44 mm) in width. Where there are decorative cutouts within vertical members, spacing within the cutouts shall not exceed 1¾ inches (44 mm) in width.
5. Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members, and the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is 45 inches (1,143 mm) or more, spacing between vertical members shall not exceed 4 inches (102 mm). Where there are decorative cutouts within vertical members, spacing within the cutouts shall not exceed 1¾ inches (44 mm) in width.
6. Maximum mesh size for chain link fences shall be a 2¼ inch (57 mm) square, unless the fence has slats fastened at the top or the bottom which reduce the openings to not more than 1¾ inches (44 mm).
7. Where the barrier is composed of diagonal members, such as a lattice fence, the maximum opening formed by the diagonal members shall not be more than 1¾ inches (44 mm).
8. Access gates shall comply with the requirements of Items 1 through 7 above, and shall be equipped to accommodate a locking device. Pedestrian access gates shall open outward away from the pool, and shall be self-closing and have a self-latching device. Gates, other than pedestrian access gates, shall have a self-latching device. Where the release mechanism of the self-latching device is located less than 54 inches (1,372 mm) from the bottom of the gate, the release mechanism and openings shall comply with the following:
8.1. The release mechanism shall be located on the pool side of the gate at least 3 inches (76 mm) below the top of the gate; and
8.2. The gate and barrier shall have no opening larger than ½ inch (12.7 mm) within 18 inches (457 mm) of the release mechanism.
9. Where a wall of a dwelling serves as part of the barrier, one of the following conditions shall be met:
9.1. The pool shall be equipped with a powered safety cover in compliance with ASTM F 1346;
9.2. Doors with direct access to the pool through that wall shall be equipped with an alarm which produces an audible warning when the door and/or its screen, if present, are opened. The alarm shall be listed and labeled in accordance with UL 2017. The alarm shall:
9.2.1 Activate within 7 seconds and sound continuously for a minimum of 30 seconds.
9.2.2 Be heard throughout the house during normal household activities with a sound pressure level of not less than 85 dba when measured indoors at 10 feet (3,048 mm).
9.2.3 Reset automatically reset under all conditions.
9.2.4 Repeat 9.2.1, 9.2.2 and 9.2.3 until the door, and/or its screen, if present, are closed.
9.2.5 Be equipped with a manual means, such as touchpad or switch located 54 inches (1,372 mm) or more above the threshold of the door, to temporarily deactivate the alarm for a single opening. Such deactivation shall last for not more than 15 seconds. Doors that remain open after 15 seconds shall activate the alarm as outlined in 9.2.4.
9.2.6 Not be equipped with an on/off switch of any type other than the temporary deactivation switch.
9.3. Other means of protection, such as self-closing doors with self-latching devices, which are approved by the building official, shall be acceptable as long as the degree of protection afforded is not less than the protection afforded by Item 9.1 or 9.2 described herein.
10. Where an above-ground pool structure is used as a barrier or where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, and the means of access is a ladder or steps:
10.1. The ladder or steps shall be capable of being secured, locked or removed to prevent access; or
10.2. The ladder or steps shall be surrounded by a barrier which meets the requirements of Items 1 through 9 above. When the ladder or steps are secured, locked or removed, any opening created shall not allow the passage of a 4-inch-diameter (102 mm) sphere.
P.S. Your agent should've told you this.