Private swimming pools: An impossible situation
There is a huge and serious confusion over whether a swimming pool is a private or public facility.
The prevailing regulations (clear as mud) stipulate that a pool is considered as being public if it serves more than ten units. In addition, and so there is no further confusion, a public pool must provide men’s/women’s toilets, first aid room, showers, lockers and the provision of a qualified lifeguard during the pools’ operation, whereas the local authority should regularly inspect the pool and provide certificates of the water quality and the management of the pool as a whole.
So, a project with 11 apartments must have all the above requirements if it has a common pool. Is this logical or workable?
Who is going to pay the cost of the lifeguard (say ±8 hours a day) which could amount in this case at least EUR 100 p.m. per unit over and above the ordinary common expenses, let alone the additional cost of the installations (including special steps for disabled, fencing, locking up the pool when the lifeguard is not there etc).
The whole definition, as circumstances stand at present, is a lot of nonsense with its unacceptable requirements and of course the added cost.
And all these in addition to the various occupant’s peculiarities such as, “I am not using the pool, so I will not pay” and suchlike attitudes.
Having said this, the authority in charge (which is the Electro-Mechanical Department) has a different view by saying that a public pool is one which is open to the public and for which an entry fee is charged.
As such, this Department does not deal with common-use pools and even refuses to examine an application which we all understand as being private. So, it is not surprising that on several occasions swimming pools are filled with earth and planted as a garden (other reasons apart) for not paying the common expenses.
On a couple of occasions where the building permit authority insisted that the “private” pool was public and having confronted the authority the reply was “this is a matter of health and safety”, but then we add okay, but such matters do not matter if the project has nine units but important if it has ten?”.
We have submitted our opinion to the Ministry of Interior that having a non-workable regulation is better to abolish it and replace it with other requirements e.g. low depth pools (e.g. 1.50-metre depth, no diving board, step and slides for the disabled etc.
Compounding the confusion EU regulations (which supersede the local ones) state clearly that a public pool is a pool which is open to the public and for a fee. Adding to the whole confusion some local authorities require a pool to have a 3 m. distance from the boundary and others 1.5 m. distance.
We feel that the Minister of Interior should look at this since it affects the title issue (lack of facilities) and then the legal obligation of the administrative committee.
So, on a couple of occasions, we came up with the idea of registering the common pool on one of the units and with the remaining ones having a right to use.
The problem is who will accept the registration of the pool on their title deed, which by projection involves the responsibility legal/running cost.
This matter came up after a complaint from a neighbour to the Municipality of Paphos about an adjoining project saying that the pool was causing a nuisance. The Mayor had announced that the Municipality will take such projects to court if the “health and safety” regulations are not followed.
By projection, if the Municipality insists on this, it will mean that almost all pools will become public, non-viable and rundown causing them to close.
Bear in mind that the mechanical box of the pool must remain at a distance of 1.50-3 m. from the boundary and if not, the neighbour must sign that he/she has no objection, since the claim is that the noise of the mechanical room could create a nuisance (what about the pool itself?).
A client of ours had to pay EUR 2,000 as “compensation” to a neighbour in order for him to sign the approval (he was claiming that he will not be able to sleep due to the pool noise.
We have many problems in the building industry and this is another one which we do not need. www.aloizou.com.cy [email protected]
Antonis Loizou F.R.I.C.S. is the Director of Antonis Loizou & Associates Ltd., Real Estate & Projects Development Managers