Pool safety - it's everyone's responsibility - Tenants bulletin 39
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, including your child’s paddling pool if it contains water deeper than 30 centimetres.
You need to make sure any pool at your home is compliant with the law, as unsafe pools risk lives. However, the lessor is ultimately responsible for making sure a pool they provide meets safety requirements, and can be fined if they don’t.
Pool safety begins before your tenancy
Any pool should be safe before you start renting your home. The lessor must make sure any pool at the property meets necessary requirements before opening it for inspections or leasing it. Real estate agents need to tell you if they have any concerns about the safety of a pool at the property.
The lessor or agent needs to record the condition of the pool and safety barrier in the property condition report at the beginning of your tenancy.
The lessor needs to maintain pool safety during your tenancy by regularly checking pool safety barriers during routine inspections (or having the agent do this), and keeping up with repairs and maintenance.
Any repair needed for the safety barrier of a pool is an urgent repair. This means you need to tell the lessor or agent about a problem as soon as you can, and they need to arrange repairs within 48 hours of you telling them.
You have the right to employ a qualified person to do the minimum repairs if the lessor or agent doesn’t respond in time or you can’t contact them. The lessor then needs to pay you back for the repairs.
Pool safety barrier and gate requirements
Pool safety barriers have different parts that 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 that were 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.
Lessors risk the lives of young children and large fines if they don’t take steps to follow the laws about pool safety.
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. This includes the hard shell or inflatable variations of children’s pools you can buy at the shop.
Your lessor or agent has a responsibility to check for pools during inspections and respond accordingly. You may be in breach of the tenancy agreement by having a portable pool without the lessor’s agreement and the required safety barrier.
You still need to consider the dangers of a pool, even if it holds less than 30 centimetres of water. You should empty a portable pool immediately after use and securely store it. 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.
Tips for tenants
- Follow the Make it SAFE checklist for portable pools.
- The lessor or agent must give you information at the start of your tenancy which includes some points about pool and spa safety, and who is responsible for it.
- Get a copy of the most recent pool inspection report from the lessor or agent and compare it to current safety regulations. If you are unsure you can ask your local government to inspect. Local governments regularly inspect pool safety barriers every four years.
- Make sure the lessor acts immediately if the local government’s check finds the pool barriers aren’t compliant.
- The lessor must get a building permit from the local government before installing, constructing or altering a pool safety barrier, including windows, doors and gates which provide access to the pool area. The lessor is responsible for the compliance of safety barriers.
- Get permission from the lessor or agent to install any pool that can hold water deeper than 30 centimetres. Check your tenancy agreement to see who needs to supply the barrier.
- You are allowed to have a qualified person do urgent repairs to a minimum standard if you’re unable to contact the lessor or agent within 48 hours or if they fail to arrange the repairs as soon as possible.
- You must keep climbable objects, such as furniture, away from pool safety barriers or you will be in breach of your tenancy agreement. Lessors and agents are encouraged to check this as part of their property inspections.
- Don’t use aquatic and flotation toys as safety devices, and keep an eye out for product recalls.
We provide useful resources on pool safety barriers:
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