In January 2018, when new Public Recreational Bathing regulations were implemented in New Jersey, interest in the specially exempt status of community associations spiked. This interest was fueled by community association board members hoping to avoid substantial costs for additional lifeguard personnel and equipment mandated by the new regulations. As specially exempt public recreational bathing facilities, community associations may legally choose to operate their pools without lifeguards. However, this decision must be carefully considered and made only after consultation with the association’s legal counsel, insurance agent, and pool operator.
New Jersey Bathing Code
The Public Recreational Bathing Code is part of the New Jersey State Sanitary Code set forth at Chapter IX, N.J.A.C. 8:26, et seq. (“Bathing Code”). It may seem counterintuitive, but community association pools used by two or more dwelling units are considered “public recreational bathing facilities” for purposes of these regulations even though they are not open to use by the public. The Bathing Code was updated by the New Jersey Department of Health on January 16, 2018 and community associations felt the impact immediately. Among other requirements, the new regulations mandate that all lifeguarded pools have an automated external defibrillator, lifeguard platforms are required at some pools that previously did not require them, and many pools must employ more lifeguards than previously required, each with their own lifeguard platform. The cost of the additional personnel and equipment is anticipated to be quite high for many community associations and this has led their fiscally responsible trustees to look for options.