Pool Safety Laws: Essential Safety Measures

QLD – Hendry advises building owners and managers that the Queensland Government, in an effort to reduce the incidences of child drowning, introduced changes to the pool safety laws, and the requirement for the issuing of pool safety certificates. These laws replaced all existing Local government pool safety laws and nearly all existing exemptions.

The pool safety laws provide a learning curve for pool owners and property managers, and there are some key dates and requirements that owners and managers need to be aware of, to satisfy their obligations.

Key points to this legislation include:

  • All pool owners have been obliged to register their pools since 4th May 2011.
  • All pool owners have until 30th November 2015 to comply with the pool safety laws, or earlier if their property is sold or leased before then.
  • A pool safety certificate must be issued by a licensed pool safety inspector and is required when selling, buying or leasing a property with a pool.
  • Pool safety certificates are valid for a period of 1 year for a shared pool and 2 years for a non-shared pool.

The overall intent of these pool safety laws and the issuing of pool safety certificates is to ensure that all registered pools have their fencing/barriers, gates, signage etc, inspected and maintained at mandated intervals.

To achieve this, pools have been divided into 2 categories for mandatory maintenance regimes.

  1. Non- shared pools, these are pools associated with stand alone dwellings i.e. the family home, individual townhouses with their own pool on that individual allotment.
  2. Shared Pools: these are pools associated with a multi unit complex, hotels, motels, resorts and the like.

Certificates and dates that apply to your pool:

Existing Non-Shared Pools
If a person is selling a property with a non shared pool before November 30, 2015:

  • A Form 23 (pool safety certificate) must be obtained before settlement of contract.

Alternatively, a Form 36 (notice of no pool safety certificate) must be given to the buyer before settlement. The Form 36 allows the buyer 90 days from time of settlement before obtaining a Form 23 from a pool safety officer.

Existing Shared Pools
If a person is selling or entering into an agreement to lease a property with a shared pool before November 2015, then the pool safety laws allow a two year period within which to obtain a form 23. In addition, if a person is selling or entering into an agreement to lease a property which is associated with short term accommodation such as a Class 3 building: motel or boarding house, then there is a 6 month period within which to obtain a form 23.

Temporary Exemptions for Rental Properties from 8.1.11 to 8.7.11
In response to flooding and damage by cyclone Yasi, The Queensland Reconstruction Authority Act 2011, which came into force February 21, 2011, has introduced a six month delay to the requirement for pool safety certificates (Form 23) for rental properties with non shared pools only. This exemption only applies to rental properties with non shared pools and is effective for the period from January 8, 2011 to July 8, 2011.

New Pools
It is important to note that all new swimming pools (and associated fences, signage and gates) still require a Development Permit for building works, whereas upon completion of these building works a final inspection is required under section 32 and 35B of the Building Regulations 2006.

Once the final inspection is completed and approved, a Form 17 (final inspection certificate) will be issued by the building certifier.

The Form 17 is valid for 2 years for a non shared pool and 1 year for a shared pool, before a Form 23 (pool safety certificate) is required to be issued, regardless of if the property is sold or leased during this period.

Since the introduction of the new pool safety laws, Essential Property Services has carried out a number of inspections and issued pool safety certificates.

The majority of pools inspected do have non compliance issues that surprise a number of owners and managers. It is imperative that an authorised inspector is used to inspect the pool and obtain a pool safety certificate.