There are over a million swimming pools in Spain, and approximately 10% of them are in urbanizaciones or other shared communities, either high-rise buildings or single-family homes. Taking a dip in your building’s pool is the best way to fight the summer heat, but it can also become a cause of conflict between neighbours and home owners.
That’s why it’s so important to have pool laws about what you can and can’t do, and today we’re looking at the main Spanish swimming pool regulations 2019, with a little help from the Colegio Profesional de Administradores de Fincas de Madrid. Most of the rules for using pools come either from regional laws in different parts of Spain or from the statute drawn up by each particular community.
1. Does the comunidad have to establish its own internal swimming pool regulations?
Each autonomous community or municipality in Spain may have its own swimming pool laws, but if they want the local homeowner’s association can also draw up their own internal regulations on the adequate use of the pool facilities.
This regulation, approved by a simple majority of property owners in the estate, must be placed somewhere visible at the entrance to the pool enclosure and tell users things like how many people can be in there at one time, what clothes you can wear (you can’t enter with street shoes), rules for eating around the pool, the opening and closing times, timetables for swimming lessons and other activities, where the first-aid kit is (it must be in a clear and easily accessible place), etc.
It’s also very important to comply with the hygienic-sanitary conditions established by current regulation, including cleaning the pool daily, correct disinfection of the water, and proper use of chlorine.
2. Is it really necessary to have a lifeguard?
Lifeguard regulations for swimming pools on Spanish residential estates vary according to the municipality and the autonomous community. In Madrid, for example, it’s obligatory to hire a lifeguard in urbanisations with more than 30 homes. The number of lifeguards needed will also depend on the number of swimming pools in the enclosure and the distance between them.
If there aren’t many properties in the community, you can get away with not having a lifeguard, but it’s advisable to have one anyway to keep residents safe – a professional who has experience lifeguarding and is first aid accredited by a competent body. The lifeguard will have to remain in the pool area for the entire opening time, which makes it especially important to establish a schedule for when the pool can and can’t be used.
When the lifeguard is on their break or has come to the end of their shift, the pool should be closed for safety reasons.
3. Can a landlord who has rented their flat use the pool?
No. In terms of rental property swimming pool regulations, the property owner and the tenant cannot use the pool at the same time. Normally, unless the parties agree otherwise in writing, the landlord loses all their privileges in favour of the tenant with regard to the use of the shared areas in the building or urbanisation, such as the swimming pool, even if they do pay the ‘comunidad’ community fees.
4. Can people who don’t pay their fees still use the pool?
There are differing opinions about this question. The General Directorate of Registries and Notaries states that, as it is a non-essential service for the habitability of the community, the homeowners’ association can approve a statutory norm prohibiting use of the pool by (and other communal area) by owners who don’t pay and, therefore, their tenants if they rent out the place.
On the other hand, many courts aren’t satisfied with this argument because the communities lack any sort of legal sanctioning power to stop people using common spaces even if they don’t pay for them. The only option open to the community as a whole is to sue the defaulting homeowner in question for the money they owe.
5. Can I go topless in the swimming pool?
Yes, because Spain doesn’t have any law that prohibits people from going topless in the pool area. However, the community can set this down as a rule in its own regulations if it wants, and if it’s voted on by a majority of members.
6. How can I put up a large, temporary paddling pool in the community?
If your urbanisation doesn’t have a permanent pool but you want to set one up temporarily just for the summer, you’ll need to get this agreed on by a simple majority of the community of property owners. In this case, as it is considered an unnecessary installation, any neighbours who don’t agree will not be obliged to pay it if the amount exceeds the ordinary monthly common ‘comunidad’ expenses.
If, for whatever reason, the pool is not dismantled at the end of the summer and stays up all year, this needs to be agreed upon unanimously because it will legally be considered an alteration of some part of the premises. All owners, after having unanimously voted ‘yes’ on it, will be obliged to fay for the cost of installation and maintenance.
7. Can I smoke in the children's play areas?
The Anti-Smoking Act in Spain allows smoking in the open-air areas of the community of owners, but not in children's playgrounds, including specific areas of the swimming pool that are just for kids. Therefore, smoking is permitted by the poolside with the exception of children's areas.
8. Is the community obliged to install a crane lift to access the pool if a disabled owner requests it?
The community will have to adapt the access to both the enclosure of the swimming pool area and the pool itself if requested by one of the local homeowners or occupants who is over 70 years old or has a physical disability. That said, the law lays out a limit for the amount of money that it’s obligatory to pay for this, which is the equivalent of twelve ordinary monthly payments of the community fees, although more can be spent if all the homeowners agree on it.