Pool Safety - Landlords bulletin 38
30 January 2020
Pool safety - it's everyone's responsibility
When a property has a pool or portable pool it’s important to ensure full compliance with safety requirements to prevent drowning deaths and injury to young children.
There are specific laws in Western Australia that mandate the installation of safety barriers to enclose private swimming and spa pools. The laws apply to all private swimming and spa pools that contain water that is more than 300mm deep.
If landlords don't ensure the pool or portable pool on the property meets the local authority's requirements, they could be subject to a fine or prosecution. Councils and government agencies are increasing checks on pools, including using aerial photography to survey backyards for bodies of water.
Pool safety barrier and gate requirements
Pool gates are statistically considered to be an area of high risk. They are the most common avenue of access for young children that drown in pools. Gate hinge requirements for private swimming pools and safety barriers requirements for both portable pools and private swimming pools can be found in the Rules for Pools and Spas.
In Western Australia, swimming pool safety barrier requirements depend on when the private swimming pool was installed, or when plans for the installation of the pool were submitted to the permit authority for approval. All pools, regardless of age, are able to include windows and boundary fences as part of their safety barrier, subject to compliance with AS 1926.1. Only some pools are permitted to use child-resistant door sets (pre-Nov 2001, indoor pools, others with specific LG approval).
If the landlord 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.
Any pool designed for swimming, wading and paddling that contains water more than 300mm deep must be enclosed by a compliant safety barrier.
If you become aware of a portable pool during an inspection, respond accordingly. If the pool can hold water deeper than 300mm request it is emptied immediately, then seek direction from the lessor as to how they would like to handle the risk. This could be a breach of the tenancy agreement. If the pool holds less than 300mm of water discuss the dangers with the tenant. Tenants should completely empty any portable pools immediately after use and store them away securely. If pools are left out they can fill up with rain or sprinkler water which could prove to be a fatal mistake.
If you are managing the property yourself you may wish to consider adding a term to the lease in relation to 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 campaign website for more information. The site provides a range of 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:
- Ensure the barriers to pools and above ground pools comply with current safety regulations. Landlords should also provide a copy of that latest pool inspection report.
- Take immediate action if the local council’s check finds that the pool barriers are not compliant.
- If installing, constructing or altering private swimming pool barriers, including windows, doors and gates that provide access to the pool area, remember that you must obtain a building permit from the local council.
- 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, to ensure they understand their responsibility to report any pool or pool safety barrier issues urgently.
- Draw to the tenant’s attention and include advice in the lease agreement that the tenant must obtain permission to erect any pool over 300mm in depth. Include that if approved, they would be required to provide compliant fencing.
- Respond to maintenance requests promptly. Repairs to a pool barrier are considered urgent and tenants have the right to authorise urgent repairs if unable to contact you within 48 hours of the need arising or if the repairs were not organised as soon as practicable after notification. Your quick action could save a life.
- Check the pool fencing, latches, gate and posts when conducting property inspections. Carry out regular maintenance of these items.
- During property inspections check that any objects that can be climbed on, such as garden furniture, are kept away from pool and spa fences and gates.
Recent Case Study
Consumer Protection was recently contacted by a young mother who was shocked when her four year old son knocked on the outside of one of the widows which formed a barrier for the in ground swimming pool at the property which she and her family were renting. Her little boy had wandered into the swimming pool enclosure after the pool gate had blown open following a storm. Investigation by Consumer Protection identified that the local government had been in negotiations with the owner about compliance issues and the owner was waiting on parts to arrive to repair the gate. The local government was surprised to learn that the property had been leased prior to the required repairs being undertaken as the owner was aware that the pool fence was non-compliant.
The necessary repairs were delayed due to the non-availability of the spare parts to repair the gate. Due to the delay the tenant was unable to utilise the rear of the property. Luckily for all concerned this incident resulted in a mutual agreement to end the tenancy rather than a tragedy.
Consumer Protection has several useful resources on safety barriers including the Rules for pools and spas booklet, Thinking of installing a swimming pool or spa guide and a Rules for portable pools checklist.
Need more information? We're here to help!
In the meantime, if you have any questions contact us on 1300 304 054 or by email
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