Swimming Pool Safety

Swimming Pool Safety

Your responsibilities as a pool owner have changed

From 29 April 2016, the NSW State Government has introduced changes to swimming pool laws, aimed at reducing the incidence of children drowning in backyard pools.

As a swimming pool owner you are responsible for ensuring your pool is enclosed with a child safe barrier and access to it is restricted to children at all times. You are also responsible for ensuring it is maintained and that it complies with relevant Australian Standards and laws.

The purpose of the new laws is to promote the need for regular checks and maintenance of pool safety barriers such as fencing. 

Summary of changes to the Act

Overview of the State Government's changes to the Swimming Pools Act

Swimming pool owners:

  • Are required to register their pools on a state wide Swimming Pool Register
  • Are required to self-assess and state in the register that, to the best of their knowledge, their pool complies with the applicable standard
  • Will be required to provide a valid swimming pool compliance certificate before selling or leasing a property with a pool from 29 April 2016. Click here for an Application for a Swimming Pool Certificate of Compliance. Please note that there is a $150 application fee.

NOTE: A penalty of $220 can be given to owners who fail to register a swimming pool. 

Councils:

  • Are required to inspect registered pools before issuing a compliance certificate, which is valid for up to 3 years from the date of issue.

For further detailed information regarding recent changes to the Swimming Pools Act and requirements refer to the Office of Local Government's Swimming Pools and Spas information website.

Swimming Pool Register

All owners of backyard swimming pools are required by law to register their pool using the online NSW Swimming Pool Register. The registration process is quick and free. In order to register a pool, owners must conduct an assessment and confirm that their pool complies with the relevant safety standard requirements.

Residents can request Council to register their pool on their behalf by completing Council's swimming pool register application form. A $10 administration fee is applicable if you would like Council to register your pool on your behalf.

To register your pool online, access the NSW Swimming Pool Register.

NOTE: The new provisions also apply to "temporary" and portable swimming pools capable of being filled with water to a depth greater than 300mm. 

Ensure your pool complies 

In line with the changes to the Swimming Pools Act and requirements, Kogarah City Council have commenced a swimming pool inspection program to encourage pool owners to ensure their child safe barrier complies with relevant requirements. Accordingly, we recommend that you regularly undertake a preliminary self-check of your pool safety barrier and rectify any obvious problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions which may assist you in this process.

The NSW State Government has prepared various self-assessment checklists to assist pool owners with the self-assessment and registration process.

Pool Barrier Exemptions

From 1 August 1992 to 30 June 2010, the Swimming Pools Act 1992 provided an alternative to the general requirements regarding the location of pool child-resistant barriers. These are referred to as exemptions.
Such exemptions apply to the following pools, so long as the means of access to the pool are at all times restricted in accordance with the exemption: 

  • Pools constructed prior to 1 August 1990
  • Pools on waterfront properties constructed before 1 July 2010
  • Pools on properties having an area less than 230m², constructed before 1 July 2010
  • Pools on properties having an area of 2ha or more, constructed before 1 July 2010

These exemptions do not apply for the life of the pool and some owners may have to upgrade their pool barrier to comply with current standards.

The exemption no longer applies where:

  • Access to the pool or pool barrier is substantially altered or rebuilt
  • Restricted access to a pool or pool barrier is not provided
  • Restricted access to a pool or pool barrier is not maintained or does not comply
  • When pools exempt are fenced voluntarily

Requirements for selling your property

The NSW Government has announced regulatory changes relating to the sale of properties with swimming pools that will take effect from 29 April 2016. Residential properties with a swimming pool or spa pool being sold will require either a Certificate of Compliance, a Certificate of Non-compliance or relevant Occupation Certificate included with the contact of sale documentation.

If the pool is inspected in response to a Certificate of Compliance application and deemed non-compliant, the property buyer will have 90 days from the date of settlement to rectify defects listed in the Certificate of Non-compliance and obtain a Certificate of Compliance.

Allowing the transfer of the obligation for swimming pool barrier compliance provides greater flexibility to the property sales process, while ensuring that incidents of pool barrier non-compliance are addressed. However, this flexibility does not extend to the leasing of properties.

An exemption may apply from the sale provisions for properties that contain more than 2 dwellings (for example, strata or community scheme developments).

Requirements for leasing your property

The NSW Government has also announced regulatory changes to the lease of properties with swimming pools or spa pools to take effect from 29 April 2016.

Landlords are to ensure that the tenant is provided a copy of a valid 'Certificate of Compliance' at the time the lease is entered into because landlords have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for their tenants.

For any new lease agreements signed after 29 April 2016, the landlord is to ensure that at the time a residential tenancy agreement is entered into:

The swimming pool is registered under the Swimming Pools Act 1992

  • A valid Certificate of Compliance is issued under the Swimming Pools Act 1992

OR

  • A relevant Occupation Certificate is issued , (if applicable) AND;
  • A copy of the valid Certificate of Compliance or relevant Occupation Certificate is provided to the tenant.

This means therefore that either a valid Certificate of Compliance or relevant Occupation Certificate is to be attached with lease contract documentation.

An exemption may apply from the above lease provisions for properties that contain more than 2 dwellings (for example, strata or community scheme developments).

Learn More - Protect Your Pool, Protect Your Kids

In 2010, with assistance from The Samuel Morris Foundation and the Swimming Pool and Spa Association of NSW (SPASA NSW), The Children's Hospital at Westmead developed the Protect Your Pool, Protect Your Kids online video.

This video provides pool owners with comprehensive information about pool fencing, the legislation that applies and how they can ensure their pool fencing is safe and compliant with the legislation in order to reduce drowning among children under the age of five.

You can view the Protect Your Pool, Protect Your Kids video.

Read more information about swimming pool fencing at Royal Life Saving website.

To find out more, read Council's Frequently Asked Questions. Royal Life Saving NSW has also produced a series of Be Pool Safe Fact Sheets.

 Protect Your Pool, Protect Your Kids 

Swimming Pool Legislation

The Swimming Pools Act 1992 and the Swimming Pools Regulation 2008 can be viewed and downloaded online at www.legislation.nsw.gov.au.

The Swimming Pools Regulation 2008 requires that Council has the following documentation available for public inspection at no cost:

  • Guideline 7 Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation by the Australian Resuscitation Council. Copies are also available at Council's Customer Service Centre.
  • AS1926.1-2007 and AS1926.1-2012 - Australian Standard Swimming Pool Safety  - due to copyright reasons, Council cannot place a copy of the standard on its website or make copies of the Standard available to the public. However, it is available for public inspection at Council's Customer Service Centre.

Swimming Pool Safety Checklists