An HOA rule mandated that only tenants – no guests – could use the pool, and it shut down the entire pool for a day after someone broke that rule. Is that legal?

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: The Board of our Homeowners Association recently reopened our pool for tenants only (no guests or family). Twice residents were observed bringing in guests, and as punishment, the board closed the pool to all residents the next day. Can the board punish all residents because of another resident’s action? – Bill

Answer: Your association’s board of directors and management have certain powers afforded to them by law and your community’s controlling documents. This makes them more akin to a business’s manager than a governmental body.

While your board does have certain powers and responsibilities, parental powers are not among them. Your board only has a limited right to fine violators for violating community rules. It cannot attempt to exact revenge on offenders by embarrassing them or trying to ostracize them from their neighbors by arbitrarily closing a community amenity due to their infraction.

Your community cannot act like my boot camp company commander and make everyone do pushups because one recruit did not salute properly. Nor is your community a business that reserves the right to refuse service. It is its residents’ home.

Other attorneys may disagree with me because the law is not settled.

Still, I believe a community association cannot exclude valid guests from using community amenities along with their resident host.

In reaction to the pandemic, your community may limit the number of people that can use the recreational facility at one time, require social distancing, ban people showing flu-like symptoms, and take other safety measures. These restrictions should be applied equally to all residents and their guests.

Each resident has the right to enjoy both their home and the common areas with whom they choose. This may cause residents to have to sign up in advance to use amenities and create other logistical problems, which is probably what your association is trying to avoid.

Your board members are trying to do their best during a difficult time, so if you address this issue with your board, remember that they are your neighbors volunteering for the difficult and often thankless job of managing your neighborhood.

© 2021 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Gary M. Singer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC