BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) — While many Buffalo residents are trying to beat the heat with a cool swim, Erie County has issued a warning against using pool rental apps.
These apps, such as Swimply, allow users to spend anywhere from $30 to $80 to go swimming in someone else’s pool for an hour or more. This is nothing new either. A 2019 press release introducing the service states that it was piloted in the summer of 2018.
Swimply, which Erie County specifically mentioned, also offers users the opportunity to rent areas for basketball, pickleball and tennis.
County health officials are concerned about the potential health and safety risks posed by renting private pools and hot tubs. Not to mention it’s illegal in New York.
Unlike sites like AirBnb, which legally allow entire properties to be rented out, the state does not allow just the pool to be rented out.
“Operators of public swimming pools are required to adhere to certain technical, maintenance, hygiene and supervision standards,” Erie County said in a news release. “The Erie County Health Department (ECDOH) public health hygienist will conduct a rigorous technical review of public pools, issue permits as needed, and regularly inspect these facilities.”
Dr. Gail Burstein, a pediatrician with the Erie County Health Commissioner, said she swims almost every day. She elaborated on the risks at the Monday morning meeting.
“Poorly treated and sanitized pools can lead to disease transmission and chemical reactions,” she says.
In addition to concerns over water-borne diseases, other safety issues were also taken into account. Examples cited by Dr. Burstein and county sheriff Mark Polonkaerts include slipping on decks, falling into collapsing structures, drowning, and the last major cause of disaster. Deaths in children ages 1 to 4, according to the CDC.
Polonkers said insurance may not cover damages in such situations, and illegally renting out pools and hot tubs could result in fines of up to $2,000 per violation.
“Just because it’s on the app doesn’t make it legal,” he says.
Polonkers cited a 2017 story of a Rockland County homeowner renting out his swimming pool, resulting in a child drowning but surviving.
When asked about the New York listing, Swampley made the following statement:
“Swimply homeowners open up their spaces to users as private guests and have complete say over who can use their pools and how. Because it’s not a pool, we believe Swimply has its current legal status in the Buffalo community and should be on the list.” We operate in much the same way that other experience-sharing services that are inherently residential, such as Airbnb, and other home amenity rentals. ”
Swimply Head of Legal and Government Relations Cameron Kilberg
If you’re looking for other places to swim, you’ll find a list of Erie County beaches here. You can also find a list of public pools in Buffalo here.
Evan Anstey is an AP, JANY and Emmy nominated digital producer and has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. Learn more about his work here. follow him on twitter.