With the economy still struggling, some homeowners associations are presenting pool management firms with a dilemma.
Nationwide, delinquency rates for dues assessments have more than
doubled since 2005, according to a recent survey by the Community
Associations Institute. Another study found HOAs are not receiving
timely payments on 70 percent of the bank-owned properties in their
communities, further straining the associations and dues-paying
In response, many HOAs are reducing money set aside for major pool
repairs and service, or simply postponing work altogether, the
“With the economy like it is, people just don’t have
the money,” said Jim Foster, co-owner of Aqua Plus Pools in
Orlando, Fla. “For townhouses and condos, it’s only
going to get worse because people aren’t paying their dues.
The fact is, they’re all cutting back.”
The problem is particularly acute in Florida. The state’s
still-high foreclosure and default rates mean falling dues from
residents, so some HOAs are dragging their feet on important pool
maintenance, including code-compliance and safety-related service.
They’re also extending the time between filter rotations
and are holding off on fixing leaks or cracks.
That’s leaving many service technicians facing the question
of whether retaining these accounts is worth the potential
“My maintenance agreement says the pool has to be in good
working condition,” said Brian Kelly, owner of Shamrock Pool
Services in North Lauderdale, Fla. “I’ve given up a
number of accounts over safety issues. ...
“We can try to make accommodations — paying them fewer
visits, if possible,” he added. “But sometimes they
just can’t afford it anymore. The whole economic impact has
been pretty dramatic.”
Kelly, who services approximately 300 HOA pools in South Florida,
began noticing the trend about 2 ½ years ago and worries that
flow rates and chemistry are being compromised over a reluctance to
fund the work. He now finds himself walking away from more clients
than ever because of concerns for the overall condition of their
“Years ago, at least budgets were consistent,” Kelly
said. “But today, some of these homeowners associations have
default rates of 20 and 30 percent, and they’re not making
repairs or doing the other things to keep their pools
sanitary.” Prior to that, it was simply a matter of
referencing the needed repairs, and the work would almost certainly
be authorized, he noted.