Wisconsin Pool Owners Allowed to Rent Via App as State Backs Down After Lawsuit Threat

Private homeowners in Wisconsin will be allowed to rent our their swimming pools via an app without meeting stringent requirements that large, public pools do after the state backed down when threatened with a lawsuit, the Associated Press reported.

Swimply, an app similar to Airbnb, allows homeowners to rent out their pools by the hour. Wisconsin regulators cited a state law to Swimply in April that says a pool becomes public, and subject to state regulations, if it is used on a regular basis by people other than the residents where it's located.

Swimply argued the law was being incorrectly interpreted and threatened to file a lawsuit in July if the state didn't back down. Swimply also said the state was inconsistently applying the law and exceeding its regulatory authority.

Wisconsin is the only state that the business threatened to sue, Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) spokesperson Erin Collins said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Swimming Pool
The startup app Swimply allows private homeowners to rent their swimming pools, and Wisconsin pool owners will now be able to rent their pools without meeting stringent state requirements. Getty Images

The regulators told Swimply in April that pools offered for rent would have to be treated the same as large, public swimming pools. That meant a pool's owner would have to obtain a license and meet construction requirements that are more onerous.

But on Friday, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection notified attorneys for Swimply that most pools offered for rent would not have to meet those higher standards.

"However, whether any particular pool would be subject to public pool licensing requirements would depend on the facts of the situation for each individual pool," agency attorney Sheri Walz wrote.

Swimply co-founder Asher Weinberger, who is also its chief operating officer, said Wednesday he was "thrilled" with the change in direction. And Luke Berg, an attorney with WILL that represented the startup, said they were grateful that state regulators "took a reasonable approach in their review of their regulations and confirmed that Swimply can legally operate in Wisconsin."

Wisconsin was the first state to push back against Swimply, which started in 2018 with four pools in New Jersey but has taken off during the pandemic as more people looked for private spaces to swim and have fun.

Most of the pools on Swimply are in warm weather locations, but it recently entered the Wisconsin market.