Pool safety - it's everyone's responsibility - Real estate industry bulletin 261

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Business / companyProperty industry

23 December 2022

Pool safety - it's everyone's responsibility

Homes with pools, spas or 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, if they contain water deeper than 30 centimetres.

The Real Estate and Business Agents and Sales Representatives Code of Conduct 2016 (the Code) provides that real estate agents must make all reasonable efforts to find out material facts prior to selling or leasing a property and communicate them to prospective tenants or buyers. This means agents need to check barriers around any pool or portable pool on a property that they’re selling or leasing are safe and report any suspected non-compliance issues to the owner. If an owner does not comply with the legal requirements, not only are the lives of young children put at risk, but the owner could face substantial fines.

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.

Portable pools in rental properties

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. You should seek direction from the lessor on how they want to handle the risk. This could be a breach of the tenancy agreement.

If the pool holds water of a lower depth, 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.

Check out our Don’t Duck Out. Make it SAFE website for more information about the dangers of portable pools. The site provides fact sheets in Arabic, Greek, Italian, Vietnamese and Traditional Chinese, which could be a useful resource for tenants and lessors.

Guidelines for agents and sales representatives

Check with any owner of a property with a swimming pool that’s listed for sale or lease about whether the barriers comply with current safety regulations, particularly if there will be a home open or inspection there:

  • Can the owner provide a copy of a compliance certificate?
  • The local government should carry out compliance inspections every four years. When was the last inspection? Have there been changes to the boundary fence since the last inspection?
  • Can any windows leading into the pool enclosure be opened more than 10 centimetres without the use of a hand tool to open it?
  • Are the gates self-closing?

A pool and safety barrier needs to be compliant before leasing or selling the property. Check the pool barrier, including doors and windows which may be included in the pool barrier, at the start of each tenancy and include details in the property condition report. Include a check of the pool barrier in each property inspection.

Tell the owner if you’re concerned the requirements are not being met. You also need to tell any prospective buyers and prospective or current tenants, especially if you see the need for any urgent repairs for swimming pool safety. You aren’t responsible for comprehensive compliance checks but you’re responsible for ensuring a pool or spa is safe. Remember, lives could be at risk.

More information

The department provides the following useful resources on pool safety barriers:

Consumer Protection
Last updated 23 Dec 2022

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