DOJ Extends Compliance Date for Lifts in Existing Pools and Spas to January 31, 2013

After months of efforts by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), WLA and its members, in late May the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced an extension to the ADA pool lift compliance deadline for existing pools and spas.

The new compliance date for lifts in existing pools and spas is January 31, 2013.  DOJ’s full statement on the extension is available here.  This compliance deadline extension represents only a partial victory – it allows hoteliers time to source equipment and determine installation costs for the lifts.  Unfortunately, because the DOJ’s announcement does not change the substance of its “fixed” lift requirement, it did not address concerns raised by the lodging industry pertaining to the increased liability associated with making lifts permanently available when life guards are not present, sharing of lifts between multiple pools and spas, or the extensive construction and electrical bonding work needed to install fixed lifts.  This means that under the current regulations, nearly all pool and spa lifts must be affixed to pool decks.   There are still two additional bills going through Congress which will weigh in on this issue:

Congressional Budget Bill

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill which includes an industry-supported amendment prohibiting DOJ from enforcing permanent pool lift requirements for one year.  This legislation still needs to pass the Senate and be signed by the President.

Pool SAFE Act

Senator Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) recently introduced S. 2390, the Pool SAFE Act that would allow portable lifts as an acceptable means of providing pool and spa entry, the sharing of lifts between multiple pools at a facility, and a one-year compliance deadline.  The House companion bill, H.R. 4256, was introduced by Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.).