Looking for a Reliable Rental? Stay Away from Properties with Pools!

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Nothing says summer in Canada like spending time out on the water. While many people like the idea of having their slice of vacation right in the backyard, having a pool is a big responsibility for both landlords and tenants. Health and safety concerns combined with costly upkeep make pools a feature you’ll want to avoid when looking for a reliable rental property.

Your responsibility is tenant safety

Between 2010 and 2014 an average of 36 Canadians drowned each year in private pools. Ontario saw the highest incidence of private pool drownings in 2017 with 90 victims. In 70 percent of child drownings in backyard pools, there was no fence or a fence that did not meet safety standards. While children are often the face of backyard drownings, Canada is seeing the drowning rate rise for people aged 50-64.

What does this have to do with you as a real estate investor? If you’re buying a property with a pool, you need to make every effort to keep tenants safe. Install a fence for your in-ground or above-ground pool. If there is already a fence, check that it meets safety standards. All fences should have a locking gate. For extra protection, install door alarms on the pool fence and any doors leading to the pool. If there is a diving board, have it removed; the potential for injury is too great to risk on your investment property.

You will want additional liability insurance

For all the statistics listed above, pools are ultimately a safety hazard. When you rent your property containing a pool, you risk that should an accident happen you’ll expose yourself to a lawsuit. You may wish to consider purchasing an umbrella policy that will help you if you’ve exhausted the liability coverage on your landlord insurance.

Pool upkeep is time consuming and expensive

Keeping the pool safe for tenants requires regular upkeep. The pool needs to be cleaned weekly and have chemicals added to keep its pH level balanced. Weekly tasks include skimming the water’s surface for debris, vacuuming the pool’s floor, brushing the walls and cleaning the filter.

Pool maintenance is less necessary during the winter months – maintenance is mostly necessary when the pool is in use – but the cost will still add up quickly when the pool is in active use. A weekly pool cleaning service can cost you anywhere from $120 to $300. If you prefer to keep the work in-house, you’ll need to purchase the equipment and chemicals, which are costly. If the pool is in a single-family home, you’ll need to work with the tenants on their pool maintenance responsibilities.

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Pool repairs aren’t cheap

If something goes wrong with your pool, which is bound to happen, be prepared to pay big. For example, if you’re hiring a professional to fix a tear in your pool’s lining, expect to pay around $200. If the lining needs replacement, you could be paying almost $2,000. Meanwhile, fixing a leak could cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to well over $1,000.

When evaluating investment properties, ask the previous owner about any prior repairs and maintenance history. You don’t want to call a professional for a small fix that may be part of a larger issue, nor do you want to buy a property with a problematic pool.

Pools hurt resale value

If you’re reading this and are still considering adding a pool to your property, you may be surprised to learn that the resale value isn’t what you’d think. You may only get a return by about half on your investment. Whether you’re looking to resell the property in the future or hoping to attract tenants, the upkeep and safety hazard of a pool may deter them. There are plenty of other outdoor features tenants and future buyers would love to see, such as a new deck.

You’ll need to hire a separate inspector for the purchase

When you’re ready to buy a property with a pool, you’ll need to hire a separate professional to perform the pool inspection. A traditional home inspector may not have the expertise necessary to thoroughly evaluate your pool. The inspector will check the pool’s lining, leak detection, operating systems, deck surfacing and more. The inspector will also be able to tell you whether your fencing is legally compliant. A visit from a pool inspector will add a couple hundred more dollars to your purchasing price.

Pools are energy zappers

Pools require a lot of energy – and not just to clean them. In-ground pools require electricity to operate the pump and other pool parts. If your pool is heated, you’ll spend even more on electrical bills. If you have a gas heater, which is the most common type, you’re looking to spend $300 a month just keeping your pool warm. Depending on your setup, you’ll need to cover the costs from tenants’ rent at a multifamily unit, or your single-family tenants will need to bear the additional cost.

Wildlife also love pools

Your tenants want to live in a place with a pool so they can have their friends over – not pests. Mosquitos love nesting and living near bodies of water. You’ll need to perform frequent skimming and maintenance to deter pests. A clean pool is also free of algae, which attracts bugs as a food source.

Raccoons love swimming pools, and if one carrying disease enters your pool the disease could spread to your tenants. Birds like ducks and geese can also contaminate your pool with their droppings. Diseases from wildlife could include salmonella and E. coli or could be as serious as infectious diseases causing neurological conditions in humans.

A pool isn’t worth the trouble

Insurance companies call pools “attractive nuisances” for a reason. As a landlord, your liability is certainly a concern, but the important thing to remember is that you want to create a safe environment for your tenants. That may not include a pool at your investment property. Given many other attractive property features – a new roof, a deck, or an updated bathroom, to name a few – pools trend more toward liability than a benefit.

Looking For A Reliable Property? Stay Away From Properties With Pools, With Scott Dillingham