Pools are often a topic of dispute between residents in residential complexes that have them. Beyond questions of opening hours and capacity, other matters have been disputed so frequently that they have even ended up in court in search of a solution to settle the issue once and for all. Such is the case with the question of whether owners of a parking space but no home on the property are entitled to access the pool and other communal areas. Here, it’s worth clarifying your rights: when can the community ban use of the pool?
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Can parking space owners use the pool?
With the arrival of good weather, community pools become a social hub attracting numerous residents. High maintenance costs mean that communities frequently establish certain rules of use, such as opening hours, guest numbers, capacity etc. However, they often overlook the need to specify who is entitled to use the facilities.
What the bylaws say
You may encounter issues not specifically dealt with in the bylaws, which are subject to debate and even complaints if those involved can’t reach an understanding. As a starting point, the bylaws will usually refer you to the law covering building matters.
What the Supreme Court says
In response to an action brought by a community of owners in Santa Ponsa, in the Balearic Islands, the Supreme Court established that, by itself, a parking space does not confer the right to the use and enjoyment of the pool attached to the building associated with the parking space.
The problem was elevated to the Supreme Court after the court in Palma de Mallorca ruled in favour of a parking space owner who complained that the bylaws had been amended to stop him from enjoying this communal facility. Could he use the pool as the owner of a parking space but no home on the property?
The bylaws were amended when the community became aware of pool privileges being abused by a group of young people invited by the owner of a parking space but no home on the property. When they tried to deny access to this person and his guests, the person brought an action against the community because he was also paying a share of the costs of the communal areas on the property.
The justice system agreed with the community for two reasons. The first was because people who (only) owned parking spaces were not contributing to the payment of expenses associated with the pool and the other communal areas. The second was because, although the bylaws do not explicitly ban use of the pool in these circumstances, neither do they authorise the use of the pool by non-residents. Therefore, the residents were entitled to amend the bylaws and to add the relevant restrictions to prevent use of the pool. This is the same as their right to ban use of the pool by residents behind in their payments.
So, it’s clear that only homeowners have the right to access the pool, and that they can govern this use with well drafted bylaws.