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Understanding swimming pool regulations when buying property

 


What are the swimming pool regulations in Victoria?

A pool is a popular feature in Australian real estate, with an estimated 1.2 million backyard pools nation-wide. For those who have recently settled on a home with a pool or spa, or who are looking at purchasing such a home, it is important to be aware of the new regulations. You may be required to take additional action to ensure that your pool is compliant.

In December 2019, new regulations governing swimming pools and spas were introduced in Victoria. These rules are aimed at increasing safety and bring Victoria’s system in line with other jurisdictions, such as New South Wales.

The new rules cover all pools that can hold more than 30cm of water. This includes inground pools and aboveground pools, as well as hot tubs and spas. Pools that cannot hold water to a depth of 30cm or more, such as toddler ‘clamshell’ pools, do not fall under these rules.

Your pool/spa must be registered with your local council

All pools and spas, which meet the above criteria need to be registered with your local council by 1 November 2020.

Depending on when you bought your property, this may or may not have been done by the vendors. You can contact your local council to check whether your pool or spa has been registered.

If your pool or spa was not registered by the vendor, you will need to do this yourself before 1 November 2020. The process varies slightly by council but is generally quite simple. For the City of Darebin, for example, there is a straight-forward webform to complete to register your pool or spa. There is also a fee for registering a pool, currently capped at $31.84.

Barrier compliance certificates

If the pool/spa has already been registered, the council will also have a record of whether the vendor obtained a ‘certificate of barrier compliance’ for the pool or spa. The specific requirements for a barrier depend on the age of the pool. You can check the requirements for your pool here.

Barriers are not required for small inflatable pools, fountains, fish ponds, dams, outdoor baths used for bathing and emptied after use, or spa baths in a bathroom.

If the vendor did not obtain a certificate of barrier compliance, you will need to arrange an inspection of your pool or spa barrier by a registered building surveyor or inspector, or a municipal building surveyor. If your pool is compliant, the inspector will provide you with a certificate of barrier compliance.

Once you obtain the certificate, you must lodge it with your local council within 30 days. There is a small fee for lodging the certificate (currently capped at $20.44).

If the vendor did obtain a certificate of barrier compliance, you just need to remember to organise for a new inspection and compliance certificate in four years’ time.

Penalties for failure to register your pool/spa

It is important to make sure that your pool is both registered and compliant, as there are penalties for failing to abide by the regulations. Failing to register a pool or spa by 1 November 2020, for example, may attract a penalty of up to $1,652.20.

I’m looking to purchase a property with a pool/spa. What should I do to make sure it’s compliant?

The vendor’s agent should have details on whether the pool is registered with the council and whether a barrier compliance certificate has been issued. If you can’t get these details from the agent, you can also contact the council to confirm.

If the pool has not been registered, the vendor will need to attend to registration before settlement. Otherwise, you may be liable for a fine. Similarly, if the pool is registered but has a non-compliant barrier, it would be in your interest for the vendor to remedy the defects before you take possession of the property.

In these situations, you may need to negotiate an agreement with the vendor’s agent or conveyancer for the vendor to register the pool, prior to settlement and ensure it is compliant. This could be a modification to the contract of sale or a separate written agreement.

Making such an agreement will prevent you from being fined for a non-compliant pool or spa after settlement. To ensure that you can negotiate the best possible outcome, we recommend engaging a solicitor and conveyancer to represent you in your purchase.

Get help

At David Davis, our team of experienced solicitors and conveyancer can deal with the vendor’s representative on your behalf. We can take the hassle out of the purchase process while ensuring that any defects in the property are properly fixed. Contact us today for a quote for our conveyancing services.

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