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30 January 2020
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 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.
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.
Contact Consumer Protection buy calling 1300 304 054 or by email