Renting a property with a pool can be a great experience. Back in the seventies I shared a house that had a swimming pool. What a great place to live; lots of good memories. The pool got hammered in Summer. Someone used to service the equipment, although I never saw anyone. We certainly didn’t touch the equipment. Brian chose to vacuum the pool on Saturday mornings (after playing in a band on Friday nights!). We never had any pool care problems.
Over the years we have experienced may issues regarding pools and rental properties that could have been resolved far more efficiently, had the parties involved know and fulfilled their roles. The following is our take on how, renting a property with a pool, can be as an enjoyable experience as the one we had, all those years ago.
THE PARTIES INVOLVED in
RENTING A PROPERTY with a POOL
At the risk of stating the obvious, there are three parties involved in a rental property pool, being: –
- The Landlord – the owner
- The Real Estate Agent
- The Tenants
with a possible fourth, being the pool service company.
The Landlord is the (invisible) person who: –
- may be a good or a bad landlord
- choses the managing agent
- decides on the level of the responsibilities for the tenant
- authorises or won’t authorise expenditure on the pool
- is chosen by the Landlord
- acts on behalf of the Landlord
- may or may not be efficient
- may or may not know how a pool operates
- are those renting the property
- may be good or bad
- usually know absolutely nothing about the running of a pool
- may not give a damn about the pool
- may absolutely love and take care of a pool
The Pool Service Company
- is us or people like us
- can be booked to
- teach the tenants how to care for a pool basics
- carry out regular maintenance
- attend to problems related to the pool
RESPONSIBILITIES AS WE SEE THEM
Most of the problems occurring with a rental property pool are a result of one of the four parties above not playing their part.
If you want to rent out a property that has a pool, consider the following: –
- Be contactable. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the words “I haven’t been able to get hold of the landlord”. Now that may be Excuse 39 in the agent’s excuse book, but it happens too often and causes problems. Let’s say we need to get approval for a pump repair in the middle of summer and the landlord cannot be contacted. The pool goes green because of the inaction, now who pays for the clean-up? It’s usually you, the landlord.
- Have your filtration and sanitation system assessed by us or someone like us. Budget for equipment replacement if the assessment isn’t good. It could be as simple as having a chlorinator cell that’s on its way out and you don’t know.
- Make sure you have an automated sanitation system. If you don’t then, at least, install an oversized chlorinator. Oversized, to cover incompetence. You may have got away with physically adding chlorine every few days for years but, believe me, a tenant just won’t do that.
- Read your property “Service Reports”. Don’t find out that things need attention too late, because that could and usually will cost you more.
- Decide on what the ‘Pool Care Responsibilities’ of your tenants will be. Insert a suitable clause into the lease. If this isn’t defined you could end up paying for a lot of things that could have been avoided. You, the agent and the tenant need to be very clear on the areas of responsibility.
- If you are having the pool serviced once a month then don’t let the agent use that as a selling point when renting your property. It is like telling a tenant the you will have the stove cleaned once a month. Imagine that. The reason, and it’s a good one, that you would want to have a pool serviced, is to ensure that your equipment is being maintained and that the chemistry of the pool is being adjusted. It is important that the reason is defined because, if you agent isn’t strong, you will end up paying for charges that should be the tenants and not yours. For example, the tenant doesn’t keep the pool topped up during a dry spell and the pump runs dry and needs repair. Or, the tenant doesn’t empty the skimmer basket, the water flow becomes badly affected, and chlorine addition to the pool all but stops and the pool goes green. Should you be responsible for the repair cost or the pool clean-up? I don’t think so. What do you think? Pool Cleaners can be a real problem. We get called out because the cleaner isn’t running, only to find out that there is a bottle cap stuck in it. Those costs could just appear on your rent deduction list and then it’s “come in spinner”.
For an agent to work smoothly with (‘with’ being the operative word) a service company, a prospective agent needs to consider the following: –
- Service companies work for the Landlord or whoever is paying the bill. We (and most service companies) will endeavor to resolve a problem as quickly as possible. We do not want to see costs blow out without good reason.
- To solve a problem with a pool in an efficient and cost-effective manner, we need good communication. We need communication in writing. We need agents to obtain timely approvals for work quoted. Communications need to be tight.
- When pools have a regular pool service, we need an agent to communicate the responsibilities of the tenant to the tenant. We do not deal directly with tenants except during pool instruction.
- We will not bill tenants directly for any service costs, such as chemicals. Those costs go on our account and the agent does the billing. The reason for this is that tenants disappear, owing us money. Leaving a note for the tenant as to what chemicals to buy and put in, simply does not work. It’s better to have chemical costs built into the rent. Easier for everyone, however, there needs to be clear definition in the lease agreement. For example, if the tenants turn the power off (to save electricity) then the chemical and labour cost to clean up a green pool is their problem. Yes, that happens. On the other hand, if a pump repair is not carried out in a timely fashion, then the ensuing green pool cleanup costs might be disputed.
- We need agents to read our Service Reports, as those service reports, for us, are an important means of communication. It’s how we keep agents informed. We do this to contain administration costs for all of us.
The following is a notice which we wrote several years ago to make it clear to students, renting a property with a pool, that they had responsibilities. If you follow the outlines below it will help you enjoy the pool. (pdf)
YOUR POOL CARE RESPONSIBILITIES
The LANDLORD has the pool serviced monthly to ensure that
- the pool equipment is running correctly and in good condition.
- the chemistry in the pool is balanced
- the filter (and chlorinator) is correctly cleaned
- there are no problems developing regarding the pool and the equipment
As TENANTS, you are responsible for the day to day care of the swimming pool and as such you need to,
- keep the pool free of debris – scooping may be required
- empty the skimmer & pump baskets as often as is needed
- check that the pool has chlorine and that the pH is correct – these tests should be carried out daily. “Insta Test Strips” are supplied so that a quick test may be easily done. A four in one test kit is also available so that you can accurately determine the amount of acid that needs to be added. A consequence of a salt water pool is that the pH will rise rapidly in that pool. The pH needs to be adjusted to 7.4 to ensure that
- the chlorine in the pool will be able to do its job
- the pool water will be maintained at the correct balance
- the swimming comfort of the swimmers is maintained
When taking the sample for testing, take it near the skimmer box and at elbow depth using the test bottle supplied. Take care when adding acid – make sure your eyes are covered and you wear gloves. Add acid to a bucket of water and pour into pool over the return jets with the system running. Run system for 2 hours before allowing anyone to swim or adding other chemicals.
Be aware that during periods of high usage, it is advisable to turn the system onto manual so that you have filtration and chlorine production during that high demand period. Be sure to keep children away from the skimmer box.
Respond to the pool going cloudy by testing and adjusting the pH down to 7.0 and after running the system for two hours, add chlorine by hand. If you cannot establish why the cloudiness occurred (for example, the power was off) call your real estate manager.
DO NOT WAIT FOR THE POOL TO GO GREEN OR WORSE. Pool cleanups can be very expensive.
Be aware that if the pool cleaner isn’t working, then you need to
- check that the skimmer basket is empty
- check that the throat of the cleaner doesn’t have anything jammed in it.
- ensure everything is correctly fitted
- make sure there are no broken (or split) parts
- make sure it is not sucking air somewhere
Be aware that it is advisable to check the pool after long periods of rain, as bad weather can have a detrimental effect on the pool. Is the power still on? Are the pH and chlorine levels correct? If the rainfall has been heavy over a few days, you may need salt, if it is a salt water pool.
Never let the water level drop below the bottom of the skimmer box and never remove cleaner from pool while still connected to the skimmer box as the pump will run dry and become damaged. You will be responsible for the repair or replacement.
Ensure cleaner and cleaning equipment is stored out of the sun when not in use.
Every pool is different. The above list is a description of several of the things you need to look out for, but it does not cover absolutely everything you are responsible for, so you need to get to know this pool. Consult us at Adlers on 3848.6038 or your local pool shop, if in doubt.
REMEMBER YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DAY TO DAY CARE OF THE POOL – NOT THE LANDLORD –
SO BE AWARE