With summer just around the corner, it’s time to get the backyard pool ready for action. While this heralds fun in the sun, it also requires property owners to be vigilant when it comes to pool safety. This is especially important if you’re renting out a property with a pool.
As a property owner, you have a crucial role in ensuring the safety of your property and your tenants. While you’re not responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of your property’s swimming pool or spa, you are responsible for ongoing safety and compliance.
So, before the hot weather sets in, take the opportunity to review your obligations as a landlord when it comes to pool safety.
Pool Safety Considerations
As a starting point, it’s vital that the pool at your investment property is deemed to be safe and compliant, in line with NSW legislation on pool safety.
The obligations of landlords of properties with a pool include:
- Ensuring your property’s pool has a compliant, child-resistant barrier at all times.
- Ensuring your property’s pool is registered on the NSW Swimming Pool Register.
- Providing a copy of the applicable certificate/s to the tenant at the time of entering into a residential tenancy agreement.
Together with your tenants, you need to ensure that the pool barrier is maintained in a compliant state at all times. This means regularly inspecting the pool barrier and pool area to ensure there are no defects, no climbable objects placed near the pool barrier and that the gate is never propped open.
Swimming Pools & Spas
The Swimming Pools Act 1992 applies to owners of swimming pools and spa pools located in residential buildings, movable dwellings or tourist and visitor accommodation. The law applies to any pool or spa capable of being filled with water to a depth greater than 30cm, used for swimming, wading, or paddling. This includes portable and inflatable pools and spas.
To be fully compliant, pool gates should swing outwards away from the pool area. They should always be kept shut and never propped open. Pool gates should shut automatically from any open position, automatically locking (self-latching) when they close. If the gate does not shut and lock automatically, the pool gate should be permanently fastened until a new lock and closing device can be installed.
A cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) sign is required to be displayed near the pool. The sign must be in good condition and able to be read easily from 3 metres away. From 1 September 2019, new CPR signage came into effect, requiring all new pools to use the updated signage. Note that owners of existing pools are not required to update their signage unless the pool is substantially altered or rebuilt.
As a property owner, you must ensure that pools are surrounded by a child-resistant safety barrier at all times, in accordance with relevant Australian standards. The requirements for child-resistant barriers vary depending on when the pool was built and where the pool is located. It’s vital that a ‘non-climbable’ zone around the pool is always maintained to prevent children from climbing over fencing.
Pool owners must register their pools online on the NSW Government’s Swimming Pool Register in order to receive a certificate of registration. As part of this process, property owners undertake a self-assessment checklist to determine if their pool fencing meets the applicable Australian Standards (based on the construction date of the pool).
Property owners looking to rent or sell a property with a swimming pool or spa have additional obligations. When leasing or selling a property with a swimming pool or spa, the tenancy agreement or contract for sale must include:
- a Registration Certificate issued from the Swimming Pool Register, and
- a valid swimming pool certificate of compliance, or
- a relevant occupation certificate issued within the last 3 years.
When a residential tenancy agreement is entered into for a property with a swimming pool or spa, you or your property manager must provide the tenant with a copy of the valid certificate of compliance or occupation certificate. For new leases signed after 29 April 2016, you are obliged to provide the relevant certificates to the tenant at the time the residential tenancy agreement is entered into.
N.B. These laws do not apply to properties with more than two lots and a shared pool, such as units in strata complexes or community schemes. Responsibility for pools and spas in strata and community title schemes rests jointly with all unit owners through the owners’ corporation, which is responsible for ensuring there is a valid certificate of compliance or occupation certificate for all such pools.
For more information on your responsibilities in relation to pool safety as a landlord, contact Fair Trading NSW or seek further advice from the NSW Office of Local Government.
Are you considering renting out a property with a swimming pool? Vision Property & Finance has the knowledge and experience to ensure you meet your legislative obligations as a landlord when it comes to pool safety. For more information, call 02 8354 3000 to contact our Sydney office or 02 4014 1999 to talk to someone in our Newcastle office. You can also contact us here.