Drowning in swimming pools is a significant cause of preventable death in children under five years of age. Pool owners must ensure that children are always properly supervised and are required by law to maintain the safety of their pool area.
If you are a pool owner, planning to build a pool or looking to buy, rent or sell a property with a pool you need to ensure you are aware of laws that apply.
The Swimming Pools Act 1992 applies to swimming pools and spa pools that are located (or being built) on site with a residential building, movable dwelling or tourist and visitor accommodation.
If you are the owner of a property with a swimming pool or spa pool, these laws apply to you.
In a strata or community scheme, all of the lot owners jointly own any swimming pool or spa pool that is on common property. The owners corporation (or body corporate) is responsible for ensuring such pools are compliant with the Swimming Pools Act 1992.
The law applies to any excavation, structure or vessel – including swimming pools and spa pools – that are:
Pool owners must register their pools online on the NSW Government’s Swimming Pool Register. Alternatively, you can pay a fee to your local council to do this on your behalf.
A certificate of registration will be issued to the pool owner. Go to the NSW Government’s Swimming Pool Register website to check that your pool has been registered.
Owners of properties with swimming pools must at all times:
Visit the pool safety checklists page on the NSW Government’s Swimming Pool Register for more information.
Note that portable and inflatable pools that are capable of being filled to a depth of 30cm (300mm) or more must also be surrounded by a swimming pool safety barrier and meet the requirements listed above. Safety information about inflatable or portable pools is on the inflatable swimming pools page.
In case of an emergency the law requires that you have a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) sign displayed near your pool.
You can buy a CPR sign from your local pool shop, council or community organisations such as St John Ambulance, the Australian Red Cross or Royal Life Saving. The sign must be in good condition and able to be read easily from 3 metres.
From 1 September 2019, new CPR signs come into effect. From this time, all new pools must use the updated signage. Owners of existing pools are not required to update their signage unless the pool is substantially altered or re-built.
From 1 March 2019, new signage requirements will apply to pools under construction. A sign must be displayed in a prominent position near the pool that states “this swimming pool is not to be occupied or used”. The sign must be displayed at all times while the pool is under construction and only removed once an occupation certificate has been issued for the pool, or once a certificate of compliance has been issued.
Owners who are renting or selling a property with a swimming pool or spa pool have additional obligations to meet.
When selling a property with a swimming pool or spa pool, you must ensure the contract for sale includes:
If you do not attach the certificates as required, the purchaser may be allowed to rescind the contract within 14 days of exchange, unless settlement has already occurred.
If a certificate of non-compliance is attached to the contract for sale, the vendor is transferring the obligation to obtain a certificate of compliance to the purchaser.
The purchaser 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.
This requirement does not apply to a lot in a strata scheme or in a community scheme if that strata or community scheme has more than two lots, or if the sales contract is for an off-the-plan property.
When a residential tenancy agreement is entered into for a property with a swimming pool or spa pool, the landlord or real estate agent must provide the tenant with a copy of the valid certificate of compliance or occupation certificate. A certificate of non-compliance must not be used where a residential tenancy agreement is proposed to be entered into at the property.
This requirement does not apply to a lot in a strata scheme or in a community scheme if that strata or community scheme has more than two lots. If you have any concerns about the actions of a real estate agent, contact Fair Trading.
Local councils and certifiers accredited by the Building Professionals Board, who are part of NSW Fair Trading, can carry out a swimming pool barrier inspection. They can then issue a certificate of compliance if the swimming pool or spa pool meets all the safety requirements.
Pool owners should contact their local council or a private certifier early to allow time to organise a compliance inspection prior to renting or selling a property.
A swimming pool certificate of compliance is valid for three years from its date of issue. Go to the NSW Government’s Swimming Pool Register website to check if a certificate of compliance has been issued.
Pool cleaning systems
There have been several incidents where children have become trapped in cleaning and skimming systems used in swimming pools.
The types of pool cleaning devices involved in these incidents have included:
All pool owners should:
Pools and electricity can be a lethal combination. Take extreme care if you have a swimming pool that has a portable electrical pump and filter system, particularly if it does not have protective housing.
When buying pools with electrical pumps and filters you should:
If it is necessary to use flexible extension cords:
When building a new pool, you must:
In NSW, local councils are required to:
Any concerns about the regulatory actions of councils should be raised with the Office of Local Government
The NSW Building Professionals Board, who are part of NSW Fair Trading, accredits professionals to inspect and certify private swimming pools under NSW swimming pool laws.
In NSW, accredited certifiers are required to:
New changes to the Building Professionals Regulation 2007 exclude A3 and E1 certifiers from being able to inspect and issue certificates for pool barriers that have undergone a performance solution pathway under the Building Code of Australia.
In addition to inspecting and certifying pools, certain authorised certifiers can also carry out minor works to make a pool compliant with the laws. If you have any concerns about the actions of a certifier, contact Fair Trading.
There is a national product safety regulatory framework which generally applies to consumer goods, including those associated with swimming pools. This allows for safety standards to be developed and product bans or recalls to be issued.
These laws also impose general prohibitions on misrepresentations about products and the requirements for products to be fit for purpose. To raise concerns about products, contact Fair Trading.
All portable swimming pools are covered by a mandatory Standard: Consumer Goods (Portable Swimming Pools) Safety Standard 2013. Under this Standard, portable swimming pools and their packaging must carry warning messages to remind purchasers, pool owners, parents and others of their safety obligations in and around these pools.
You can search the NSW Government’s Swimming Pool Register to check if a pool has been registered and whether a certificate of compliance (valid for three years) has been issued.
Visit the Royal Life Saving NSW website or contact your local council for more information, fact sheets in other languages and water safety requirements.
© State of New South Wales (NSW Fair Trading). For current information go to fairtrading.nsw.gov.au