Pool Fencing Legislation Undergoing Changes


Read the Disclaimer Here.

Avoid thousands of dollars in fines for non-compliance, or hefty costs for modifications and/or repairs of non-compliant pool fencing, by being aware of new laws being introduced Australia-wide.

Do you own any properties with pools?  Are you going to sell any properties with pools?  Or lease any?  Are you inspecting properties with pools with the view to purchasing one as a family home? Or as an investment property?

Be Aware.

Pool fencing requirements are getting a major overhaul around the Country with the intention of addressing the unacceptably high drowning rate of toddlers each year. New legislation is being developed and applied and the implications for owners of properties with pools are serious – maintain a compliant pool fence or face a possible $16,500 fine (maximum penalty for non-compliance of pool fencing legislation in Queensland). 

The requirements are common-sense, logical and reasonable, and for the responsible pool owner are unlikely to be any major headache once compliance is established.  It is the establishment of the compliance that could be the cause for concern – for the uninformed.

                                                               

Image Courtesy of Queensland Government Department of Local Government & Planning

Now, in Queensland, pool safety certificates are required when selling or leasing a property with a pool.  Pool safety inspectors can only issue a certificate when they have placed the certificate details onto the pool safety register.  Note that the legislation does not set the amount that pool safety inspectors can charge!  According to the Queensland Government website we researched “This [how much the pool safety inspectors can charge] is determined by the market and pool owners are encouraged to shop around for the best deal.”  Beware being unreasonably over-charged.  And be aware that if a pool safety inspection takes place, and non-compliance reported, the pool owner will be required to rectify the non-compliant areas – and have the inspection repeated.  Some pool safety inspectors will charge for the re-inspection, but some will not.  Shop around, as they say.

In Queensland it is possible to purchase a property that does not have a pool safety certificate –the seller must issue the buyer with a Notice of no pool safety certificate—Form 36 before entering into the contract of sale and before settlement.  However, should you choose to purchase a property with a pool that does not have a pool safety certificate, based on the assumption that you won’t have to do too much to make it compliant and if you’ve not familiarised yourself with the requirements and gathered a reasonable assessment of what’s required to bring the pool fencing that you’ve acquired into line, and you could be up for thousands of dollars of modifications or repairs to achieve compliance.

Attempt to sell a property without a pool safety certificate and it could prove more difficult to sell the property if potential purchasers are savvy enough to be aware of the new laws and suspicious of why no certificate is available.  Worse still, it could drive the sale price lower as purchasers offer lower than they otherwise might for the property, to allow for the possible cost of correcting any deficiencies in the pool fencing.  A switched-on property buyer should opt to make a purchase offer subject to a pool safety compliance inspection, as well as the generally accepted building and pest inspections.  A non-favourable report would be a good negotiating point for buyers, just as the discovery of active termite infestation would be.

To further add to the melee, in recent years Choice Magazine had reported that five out of 16 pool fences (as obtained from the manufacturers) failed to meet safety standards.  So where in most parts of Australia pool owners are required to install fences that meet the Australian standard, there is no mandatory safety standard applied to pool fences at the time of retail.  As Choice put it “the onus is on the consumer to install a standard-compliant fence, but not on the manufacturer or retailer to supply one.”  In the time since this report you would hope that this problem would have been addressed, but no update on this has been uncovered.  If you are installing a pool fence, it would be wise to do some of your own checking.

But the news is not all bad for pool owners and would-be pool owners.  The current requirements for pool fencing and pool safety in general are clearly documented and easily found on various internet sites with varying levels of detail.  The timeline for introduction of the new regulations are clearly set out.  There is ample opportunity for pool owners to educate themselves and address any issues of non-compliance. 

For those property buyers looking at properties with pools, we recommend educating yourself on the new legislation and how it will affect any property you buy. 

To assist with this self-education and awareness process, we’ve listed some tips and useful links below for you to start with, wherever your pool is in Australia.

TIPS FOR POOL OWNERS AND POOL BUYERS

  • Familiarise yourself with the legislation, current requirements and time lines for implementation, starting by using the links provided.
  • Use a checklist such as http://www.homepoolsafety.com.au/content_common/pg-safety-checklist.seo to do a self assessment on your pool and attend to any obvious problem areas prior to seeking a pool safety certificate.
  • If you are buying a property with a pool, you may consider requesting a pool safety certificate as part of the sale, or make the purchase subject to a pool safety inspection.  
  • “Shop around” for a pool safety inspector you can work with and whose fees appear reasonable.  A referral from another pool owner may set you on the right track.
  • Do ask to see the pool safety inspector’s certificate, if you are in any doubt.

USEFUL LINKS

Queensland
Pool fencing  http://www.dip.qld.gov.au/poolfencing
Pool safety fact sheets and new rules info  http://www.dlgp.qld.gov.au/fact-sheets/pool-safety.html
Pool Safety Council http://www.dlgp.qld.gov.au/our-services/pool-safety-council.html
Pool Safety Laws http://www.dlgp.qld.gov.au/poolsafety

New South Wales
Pool safety checklist http://www.safewaters.nsw.gov.au/poolchecklist.htm

Victoria
http://www.buildingcommission.com.au/
http://www.spasavic.com.au/

Tasmania
http://www.royallifesaving.com.au/www/html/852-fact-sheets.asp

South Australia
http://www.planning.sa.gov.au/go/swimmingpools

Northern Territory
http://www.watersafety.nt.gov.au

Western Australia
http://www.cat5.poolsafety.com.au/

Royal Life Saving Society
Fact Sheets http://www.royallifesaving.com.au/www/html/452-fact-sheets.asp
Pool fencing and pool safety www.homepoolsafety.com.au
Pool safety checklist http://www.homepoolsafety.com.au/content_common/pg-safety-checklist.seo
Media Release http://www.royallifesaving.com.au/www/html/16-media-releases-news.asp?n=1415

OTHER INFORMATION
Choice Magazine Report http://www.choice.com.au/reviews-and-tests/household/backyard/pools/pool-fences-review-and-compare.aspx