Pool safety - it's everyone's responsibility - Landlords bulletin 65
23 December 2022
Pool safety - it's everyone's responsibility
Homes with pools, spas and portable pools must be safe to protect young children from injury or drowning.
Royal Life Saving Australia recorded 17 drowning deaths in children aged 0-4 years in 2021-22. Over a third of the deaths occurred in a swimming pool. Drowning deaths usually peak in summer as the weather gets hotter and more people enjoy holidays.
Western Australian law requires home swimming pools (including spas) to be enclosed by safety barriers. The law applies to all home pools and spas, and portable pools that contain water deeper than 30 centimetres.
As a landlord, you could be fined if a pool on your rental property doesn’t meet local government or state requirements. Local governments check pool safety barriers at least once every four years.
Pool safety begins before the tenancy
Any pool should be safe before you lease your property. You need to make sure any pool at the property meets necessary requirements before opening it for inspections or leasing it. A real estate agent needs to tell you and prospective and existing tenants if they have concerns about the safety of a pool.
You or the agent need to record the condition of the pool and safety barrier in the property condition report at the beginning of a tenancy.
You also need to maintain pool safety throughout a tenancy by regularly checking pool safety barriers during routine inspections and keeping up with repairs and maintenance.
Any repair needed for a pool safety barrier is an urgent repair. This means the tenant needs to tell you as soon as they can, and you need to arrange repairs within 48 hours of being told.
The tenant can have a qualified person do the minimum repairs if you don’t respond in time or they can’t reach you. You then need to pay them back.
Pool safety barrier and gate requirements
Pool safety barriers have different parts that each need to comply with Australian Standards found in the Building Code of Australia.
Special attention should be paid to doors, gates and latches, the highest-risk parts of a pool safety barrier. They must be well maintained, self-closing, self-latching and never propped open.
Some requirements for safety barriers depend on when the pool was installed, or when installation plans were submitted. Pools installed or had plans submitted after 1 May 2016 have different standards to comply with than older pools.
You can find all safety barrier requirements on the department's Swimming, spa and portable pools page
You may be putting young children’s lives at risk if you don’t take steps to comply with legal requirements.
Any pool designed for swimming, wading and paddling containing water deeper than 30 centimetres must be enclosed by a compliant safety barrier.
You should check for portable pools during inspections and respond accordingly. A portable pool holding water deeper than 30 centimetres without a safety barrier should be emptied immediately by the tenant. This could be a breach of the tenancy agreement.
If the pool holds less than 30 centimetres of water, discuss the dangers with the tenant. Tenants should completely empty any portable pools straight after use and securely store them. Pools can fill up with rain or sprinkler water if they’re left out which could prove to be a fatal mistake.
You may want to consider adding a term to the lease about portable pools.
Anyone thinking about purchasing a portable pool should take a few minutes to check out the Don’t Duck Out. Make it SAFE website for more information. The site provides fact sheets in Arabic, Greek, Italian, Vietnamese and Traditional Chinese, which are a useful resource for landlords and tenants.
Guidelines for landlords
Landlords can help prevent accidental drownings at rental properties by following these guidelines:
- Make sure pool safety barriers comply with safety requirements and Australian Standards.
- You should provide a copy of the latest pool inspection report to tenants.
- Take immediate action if the local government’s check finds pool safety barriers that aren’t compliant.
- You must get a building permit from the local government before installing, constructing or altering private swimming pool barriers, including windows, doors and gates which provide access to the pool area.
- At the start of the tenancy provide the tenant/s with either a Form 1AC information for tenants or Form 1AD information for tenant with non-written tenancy agreement. Discuss pool information with tenants, so they understand their responsibility to report any pool or pool safety barrier issues urgently.
- Make the tenant aware they need your permission to have a pool with water deeper than 30 centimetres - include in the lease they need to provide compliant fencing if you approve a pool.
- Respond to maintenance requests promptly. Repairs to a pool barrier are considered urgent and tenants have the right to authorise urgent repairs if they can’t contact you within 48 hours or if the repairs weren’t organised as soon as possible after contacting you. You could save a life by acting quickly.
- Check the pool fencing, latches, gate and posts when conducting property inspections. Carry out regular maintenance of these parts.
- During property inspections check that any climbable objects, such as furniture, are kept away from pool safety barriers.
We provide useful resources on pool safety barriers: