Pool safety - Tenants bulletin 14
30 January 2020
Pool safety - its everyone's responsibility
When a property has a pool, spa or portable pool it’s important to ensure full compliance with safety requirements to prevent drowning deaths and injury to young children.
According to the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2019, 19 children under the age of four drowned in Australia between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2019. Twelve of the 19 drowned in a swimming pool.
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 and can apply to your child’s paddling pool if it contains water more than 300mm deep.
Tenants should take steps to ensure a pool at their residential premises or their portable pool complies with the law. To not do so is to risk the lives of young children. However, ultimate responsibility lies with the lessor and failure to comply could result in substantial fines. Local governments are increasing checks on pools, including using aerial photography to survey backyards for bodies of water.
Pool Safety barrier requirements
Pool gates are statistically considered to be a high risk area as they are the most common avenue of access for young children that drown in pools. 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 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 the relevant Australian Standard. Only some pools are permitted to use child-resistant door-sets; this includes pools built prior to November 2001, indoor pools or if it has been specifically approved by the Local Government.
Gate hinge requirements for private swimming pools and safety barriers requirements, including the fastening and opening requirements for private swimming pools and spas and portable pools, can be found on the Rules for pools and spas webpage.
If the lessor 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.
Guidelines for tenants
- Before setting up and filling a portable pool, ensure to follow the Make it SAFE checklist;
- Obtain a copy of the most recent pool inspection report from the agent or lessor and ensure the barriers comply with current safety regulations. If you are unsure you can ask your local government to inspect. Local governments regularly inspect pools every three (3) to four (4) years;
- Ensure the lessor takes immediate action if the local council’s check finds the pool barriers are not compliant. A child’s life could be at risk;
- Be aware a lessor must first obtain a building permit from the local government before installing, constructing or altering a private swimming pool barrier, including windows, doors and gates that provide access to the pool area. It is their responsibility to ensure the compliance of safety barriers;
- At the start of the tenancy, tenants should be provided with a Form 1AC information for tenants or Form 1AD information for tenant with non-written tenancy agreement. Tenants should discuss pool information with the lessor or agent, to ensure they understand their responsibility to report any issues urgently;
- Obtain permission from the lessor or agent to erect any pool over 300mm in depth. If approved, check your lease to confirm if yourself or the lessor would be required to provide a compliant barrier;
- If you are unable to contact the lessor or agent within 48 hours or if reported repairs failed to be carried out as soon as possible, you have the right to authorise urgent repairs by a qualified repairer to the minimum extent necessary.
- Ensure that any objects that can be climbed on, such as garden furniture, are kept away from pool and spa barriers. Failure to do so could put you in breach of your tenancy agreement. Lessors and agents are encouraged to check this as part of their property inspections; and
- Do not treat aquatic and flotation toys as safety devices, and ensure to check they are not recalled products.
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 provides several useful resources for tenants on pool 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? Were here to help!
Contact Consumer Protection buy calling 1300 304 054 or by email