How to Keep Pokémon Go from Overrunning Your Community
The Pokémon Go app has reached a level of popularity that is rarely seen. On the one hand, it has encouraged people to socialize and discover historical facts about their local area. On the other hand, it has presented issues for some homeowners. Here’s what your community needs to know about minimizing any negative impact from this game.
No doubt you’ve heard about the hugely popular Pokémon Go mobile app that people all over the world are playing. Using GPS on their cell phones and other mobile devices, players look for PokéStops where they can collect virtual characters and Pokémon gyms where they can battle for sovereignty.
As much fun as the game has been for players, some homeowners say it has wreaked havoc on their sense of safety and privacy. Several class-action lawsuits have been filed against the game developers in response to the number of players who have trespassed on private property to locate characters. A panicked homeowner even shot at a “suspicious” vehicle in front of his home—only to discover that the two teenagers inside were just looking for Pokémon characters. (Fortunately, no one was hurt.)
Can Pokémon Go create problems for your association or strata corporation? Is there something you can do to control the game in your community—or to stop people from playing it there altogether? Here are some recommendations for addressing the Pokémon Go rage in your community.
1. Ask the app company to remove any unwanted Pokémon locations.The easiest thing to do is to fill out a form on the Pokémon Go support page to request that one or more locations be removed. Keep in mind that this does not necessarily guarantee that the location will be removed quickly, if at all.
2. Notify players that they are trespassing.It may not be obvious to game players (particularly kids) that outdoor areas in your community such as roads, sidewalks, open fields, etc., are private property. If you see non-residents walking around your community while looking at their mobile devices, chances are they are searching for PokéStops. Inform them that they are on private property, and ask them to leave. If this is a frequent occurrence, put up notices. Players do have a right to be on public roads and sidewalks, even if they run through your community, so be clear on which areas are public or private before confronting anyone.
3. Call the police if you have repeat offenders.Don’t hesitate to involve the police if someone continues to trespass. Your association board or strata council may also want to request an injunction to stop a trespasser from coming onto community property.
4. Find out if your governing documents provide a way to deal with problem residents.Although residents have every right to walk around their community, they do not have a right to create a nuisance or an obstruction, or to engage in actions that could raise the community’s insurance premiums. If a resident’s playing falls into any of these categories, look over your governing documents to see if there are rules against it.
5. Craft new rules.Depending on your bylaws, you may be able to make new rules regarding how and where residents can play Pokémon Go and other such games. For example, you could set aside certain game times or specific game locations. Make sure your rules are not geared to a particular age group (such as children) or you could be in violation of fair housing regulations. Discuss the language of any new rules with your association or strata attorney and with your property management company.
6. Inform residents about safety issues and community policies.Take advantage of your existing communication methods (newsletters, websites, email, postal mail, etc.) to distribute a notice about the potential impact of Pokémon Go and how your association board or strata council is addressing it. You may also want to set aside discussion time at a meeting and put up your notice in commonly used areas. Make sure the notice provides:
- A review of private and public areas within the community
- Safety advice for homeowners, such as a reminder not to invite players inside, safe ways to ask trespassers to leave and when it’s appropriate to contact the police
- Safety advices for players and parents, including traffic concerns, the importance of playing in groups and the need for flashlights at night
- The person in your association or strata to contact regarding Pokémon Go issues
As long as everyone follows the rules of your community, Pokémon Go can be a fun activity! Learn more about how your HOA or strata corporation can manage Pokémon Go in your community. Contact FirstService Residential, North America’s leading property management company.