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Manitobans Rent Out Backyard Pools, Unknowingly Breaking Provincial Rules – Winnipeg

Private pool rentals have grown in popularity during the pandemic. But some who rent out their backyard swimming holes through apps like Swimply are unknowingly breaking provincial regulations — raising questions about how the company and provincial rules communicate with the public.

The province says private pools are considered public once they’re rented out.

Under The Health LawOwners must obtain approval from a health inspector and provide a lifeguard, among other things, just like the City of Winnipeg and YMCA pools.

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But the province has not inspected private pools for rent, a spokesman wrote in an emailed statement on Tuesday.

“A commercial pool will require washrooms, showers, lifeguards, lighting, etc., and it is likely to be too costly for the residential pool owner to modify or upgrade their pool,” the statement said.

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A Manitoba man who uses the Swimply app to rent out his pool said he was surprised to learn there were strict province guidelines.

Global News has agreed not to release the man’s name for fear of retribution.

“I wasn’t aware of it at all and run my pool very safely here,” he said on Wednesday.

“I have a meeting with people when they arrive and I brief them on all the safety regulations. No alcohol is allowed. It’s just a family run thing.”

Some newer hosts who signed up this year told Global News they’ve been pretty booked up this summer.

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As of Wednesday morning, at least 16 pools were listed as available for rent on Swimply in the Winnipeg area.

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Global News has not heard from Swimply since Tuesday after numerous requests.

Last year, Swimply told Global News that its user agreement states that hosts must follow local rules. Global News asked for further clarification on how the company informs those who list its pools, but did not comment prior to publication.

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On Tuesday, the province said it had recently sent a mail notifying Swimply users of the need to comply, but the hosts Global News spoke to said they had not yet received a letter.

On Wednesday, a provincial spokesman did not answer questions about enforcement but said the same rules would not apply to AirBnB rentals as they are not covered by the pool regulations.

“They are private homes, and as such, swimming pools and hot tubs in those homes are not regulated by the Regulation on Swimming Pools and Other Water Leisure Facilities (MR 132/97),” Said.

The man interviewed by Global News said he was disappointed because the app gave him the ability to connect with others.

“I never signed up for any illegal surgery,” he said. “I do this just for fun and I’ve met about a dozen really nice families.”

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Winnipeg insurance attorney Stuart Blake told Global News if it was his pool he wouldn’t rent it out.

“Whenever you rent your pool to a third party, that brings with it a number of personal liability issues,” Blake said Tuesday.

“If someone is injured while swimming in your pool – whether they drowned, whether they have a serious injury – a lawsuit can follow.”

Although Swimply covers up to $1 million for general liability claims along with property protection, Blake strongly recommends reviewing the policy carefully.

“All of these insurance policies certainly have limitations, both in terms of coverage limits and exclusions within the policies, so when an outfit offers you host liability insurance for, say, a $1 million limit, it might sound like it would be sufficient, but in reality it is not.”

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Blake warns that claims involving an injured person can significantly exceed that amount.

– with files by Corey Callaghan

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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