As the weather gets warmer, those in the market for a new property might find themselves more and more tempted to look for a home offering a pool.

However, new laws which take effect on 1 December 2019, will mean that all pools and spas will need to be registered with the local council, as well as mandating regular pool and spa safety inspections from registered building inspectors.

The laws will also require greater disclosure in a Section 32 when a Contract of Sale is prepared.

Whether you own a property with a pool or are looking to buy one, here are some important things you need to know.

Why have the pool safety regulations changed?

The Building Amendment (Swimming Pool and Spa) Regulations 2019 which will introduce mandatory requirements for owners of private swimming pools or spas come into effect on 1 December 2019.

The change comes into play as a direct response to the alarming number of preventable cases of children drowning and follow recommendations from the Victorian Coroner after investigating several of these cases.

The changes were proposed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, which cited the drowning of 27 young children between 2000 and May 2019.

“The evidence is clear that non- compliance with the current safety barrier laws is a significant contributing factor in fatal and non-fatal drowning incidents,” the department says in its Building Amendment (Swimming Pool and Spa) Regulations 2019 regulator impact statement.

What has changed?

The new regulations will enforce much more stringent registration and inspection of private pools and spas and surrounding fences and barriers.

Each council will be required to start and manage a register of all private pools and spas within their territory, whilst owners will need to have their safety barriers inspected and signed off by an independent building inspector.

These changes will affect all pools, regardless of when they are built and all owners of existing pools and spas will need to have their barriers inspected and altered if they are found to be non-compliant.

Once a certificate is obtained, this would need to be lodged with the local council for a small fee expected to be around $37.

Pool owners must also have their barriers inspected once every three years to ensure ongoing compliance.

If a barrier is deemed non-compliant, the owner will be given 20 days to fix any issues with the barriers or could even be issued a certificate of non-compliance it the problems are deemed too great to rectify.

Older pools are the priority, with a scaling deadline for owners to have their pools, spas and barriers inspected dependent on the age of the pool.

The scale is as follows:

  •     Pools and spas built before 1994 must have their certificate of compliance lodged by 30 October 2020.
  •     Pools and spas built between 1994 and 2010 must have their certificate of compliance lodged by 30 April 2021.
  •     Pools and spas built after 2010 must have their certificate of compliance lodged by 29 October 2021.

Once obtained, these certificates must be disclosed in the Section 32 of any relevant Contract of Sale.

It is unclear at this point if properties which are sold prior to the above deadlines are required to gain and lodge a certificate of compliance with council as part of the sale process however, it’s best to consult with a professional property conveyancer in Melbourne before you proceed with a purchase or sale.

In summary, the major changes are:

  •     All owners of private pools and spas must have these assets registered with their municipal council
  •     All owners of existing pools and spas must have their safety barriers inspected, in line with the above deadlines
  •     Councils expected to charge up to $37 to lodge a certificate of compliance
  •     Owners must have their barriers inspected once every three years to ensure ongoing compliance.

According to Engage Victoria, the Amendment Regulations will be made in late November 2019 and commence on 1 December 2019.

What do purchasers need to know?

If you’re in the market for a property with a pool, it’s important you are aware of these regulations and ensure the pool you’re purchasing is compliant BEFORE you buy it.

It can cost between $100 and $150 to have pool barriers inspected, on top of the expected $37 cost to lodge a certificate of compliance with council and purchasers will want to ensure these issues are taken care of before they purchase a property.

Tick Box Conveyancing’s pre-purchase report can identify if these relevant disclosures have been made in the Contract of Sale provided to you and negotiate to have them included if you are seeking to purchase the property in question.

Purchasers must also know that the ongoing requirements to ensure the pool and/or spa and their barriers remain compliant.

This includes regular inspections – at least once every three years – and will become an ongoing consideration of the purchaser.

Be sure to go through all of these factors with the appropriate conveyancer to ensure that you’re compliant with all the new regulations coming into force.

What do vendors need to know?

If you’re looking at selling a property that has a pool, be prepared to face questions from purchasers about the compliance status of your pool.

Whilst your pool or spa may be newer and therefore may not require to be certified until as late as 2021, it is possible that purchasers may request to see a certificate of compliance as a condition of sale.

The Victorian Building Authority has a range of very helpful self-assessment checklists which will help you assess the safety of your barrier.

As the Amendment Regulations have not been made, local councils have not yet outlined a full process for certification and registration.

The Maroondah City Council, for example, simply states it will, “provide further updates when the Victorian Government releases the requirements”.

Property owners with pools and/or spas should contact their local council and a home conveyancer for more information on the registration and certification process in their area.

 

With the new proposed regulations for owners of private pools and spas coming into effect on 1 December 2019, it’s important to find the most experienced and up-to-date conveyancing services in Melbourne to ensure that you’re not left out to dry. Whether you’re a vendor looking to sell or someone considering a purchase, contact Tick Box Conveyancing’s professional services for an accurate quotation or an obliogation-free quick chat.