The recent report by Local 10 News (WPLG-ABC) in South Florida about a Hollywood, Fla. condominium association that is considering filing a lawsuit against the maker of the Pokémon Go game app came as no surprise to our firm’s community association attorneys. We are now starting to hear from many of our condominium and homeowners association clients about their distress regarding the nuisances and potential security and liability issues that are arising as a result of the game and its players.
The station reports that the condominium association for the Villas of Positano is considering legal action to combat the throngs of Pokémon Go players who flock to the beachside building in the early morning hours.
The issue for the property is that it is a “PokeStop” for the popular game, meaning that the virtual monsters which the players are trying to find can be found at the entrance to the property that adjoins the public boardwalk along the beach. Rare Pokémon monsters are released at midnight Pacific Time, so at 3 a.m. EST hundreds of players make their way to the condominium’s doorstep.
The property manager is quoted in the report indicating that the players urinate in the bushes in the property, litter and make a great deal of noise, which disturbs many of the residents.
The report indicates that Hollywood police are aware of the problem, but they have said that those who remain on the boardwalk and do not cause a disturbance are not breaking the law. However, unfortunately for the association, many of the players are infiltrating its property in their search for the virtual characters.
The association is considering joining a class-action lawsuit or filing one of its own because the game’s maker has yet to remove its location as a PokeStop.
In addition to the problems arising from nonresidents, our firm’s other attorneys and I have been made aware that there are also issues arising caused by residents and their guests who are gallivanting through the hallways and common areas at all hours while playing. The game features “lure modules” and virtual gyms to encourage players to meet and wage battles with their Pokémon, so players are interrupting their searches to congregate and play it together in the common areas.
Boards of directors are now beginning to address these issues. Many are starting by issuing a bulletin to all of the owners, residents and staff reminding them that excessive noise in any of the common areas – including from Pokémon Go players – creates nuisances that are in violation of association rules, and building management/security should be contacted if any such nuisances arise so that immediate action may be taken.
Management, security and valet staff are also being tasked to maintain a high level of vigilance for nonresident players attempting to infiltrate the property as well as for residents and their guests creating disturbances while they are playing. Other considerations include restricting access to lobbies and common areas during nighttime, checking to make sure the association has sufficient insurance coverage, and even adopting rules governing the times of day that the game (and others like it which are sure to come) can be played in the common areas.