Swimming Pools Act and other legislation - what this means for pool owners
The Swimming Pools Act 1992 prescribes the fencing requirements of backyard swimming pools and spa pools in NSW. Some other safety requirements are prescribed including the requirement for a warning notice to be displayed near the pool.
In 2012, a comprehensive review of the Swimming Pools Act 1992 was completed. This review identified a number of amendments designed to enhance the safety of children under the age of five years around private or ‘backyard’ swimming pools in NSW. The Swimming Pools Amendment Act 2012 commenced on 29 October 2012.
The amendments mean that:
- Swimming pool owners are required to register their swimming pools on the NSW Swimming Pool Register.
- Swimming Pool owners are required to self-assess their swimming pool barrier, and when registering their swimming pool or spa pool, state in the Register that, to the best of their knowledge, their swimming pool complies with the applicable Standard.
- There is a penalty for owners who fail to register a swimming pool or spa pool (penalty notice amount of $220).
- Swimming pool owners are required to provide a valid swimming pool compliance certificate before being able to sell or lease a property with a swimming pool or spa pool from 29 April 2015.
- Accredited certifiers under the Building Professional Act 2005 may conduct swimming pool inspections at the request of the pool owner.
The Swimming Pools Regulation 2008 was re-made on 1 September 2008. It calls up the Australian Standard (AS1926.1- 2007 Swimming Pool Safety, Part 1: Safety barriers for swimming pools), which includes new requirements for:
- non-climbable zones
- mesh sizes for fences
- retaining walls that form part of a barrier
- balconies that project into the pool area.
On 1 May 2011, the Swimming Pools Regulation was amended to replace certain references to the Australian Standard (1926.1-2007 Part 1: Safety barriers for swimming pools) with references to the Building Code of Australia (BCA). The BCA in turn refers to the Standard.
The Regulation also requires that local councils and the Office of Local Government have the following documentation available for public inspection at no cost:
- Guideline 8 - Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation
- AS1926.1 – 2007: Safety barriers for swimming pools
- Building Code of Australia
Section 52 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 provides that a landlord must comply with their statutory obligations relating to the health or safety of the residential premises. Section 52 includes the following note:
“Note. Such obligations include obligations relating to swimming pools under the Swimming Pools Act 1992.”
This note makes it explicit that, in accordance with the Swimming Pools Act, a landlord must ensure that a swimming pool situated on a tenanted premises must be at all times surrounded by a child-resistant barrier that separates it from any residential building on the premises, and from any public or private place adjoining the premises. The barrier must be designed, constructed, installed and maintained to the standard prescribed in the swimming pools legislation applicable at the time the pool was constructed or installed, unless it has been substantially altered. In this case, the Standard applicable at the time the barrier was altered applies. Landlords should contact their local council in relation to the appropriate barrier standard that applies to their swimming pool or spa pool.
Tenants are urged to notify landlords immediately of any damage they detect to any barrier surrounding a swimming pool or spa pool on a residential property that they are renting. Tenants are also reminded that section 64 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 enables tenants to carry out urgent repairs for any fault or damage that causes the premises to be unsafe under certain circumstances, including if the landlord or agent cannot be contacted or does not carry out urgent repairs within a reasonable time, and be reimbursed up to $1,000.