New Safety laws for owners of pools and spas
Since 1 December 2019, new laws introduced by the Victorian Government require:
- Mandatory registration of swimming pools and spas
- A new compliance regime to improve swimming pool and spa safety
As of 1 December 2019, new safety standards have been introduced by the state government to improve pool and spa barrier safety. All owners of existing swimming pools and spas were required to register their swimming pool or spa with their council by 1 November 2020.
Owners of new pools and spas constructed after 1 November 2020 must register their pool or spa within 30 days of the issue of a Certificate of Final Inspection.
The primary objective of the new regulations is to reduce incidences of young children drowning in private swimming pools and spas through improving compliance with safety barrier requirements.
For more information about the new state government legislation, please check the Victorian Building Authority website link:
What is required
From 1 December 2019, you will be required to register your swimming pool or spa with your local council. All owners of existing swimming pools and spas must register their swimming pool or spa by 1 Nov 2020.
All owners of new swimming pools and/or spas must register with council within 30 days of receiving the Certificate of Final Inspection (CFI) from the building surveyor.
Golden Plains Shire will be tasked to ensure all affected property owners comply with the new requirements with penalties for non-compliance.
After registration, Council will advise certain prescribed information including the date of construction of the swimming pool or spa. Owners will then be required to engage a registered building surveyor or building inspector to inspect and certify the compliance of their safety barrier every four years.
Domestic pools and spas throughout Victoria, regardless of when they were built, must be provided with safety barriers to prevent unsupervised children from accessing the pool or spa area.
This includes in-ground and above-ground, and internal and external pools and spas.
The legislation also requires that all pool and spa barriers must be maintained to perform as intended.
Council carries out an audit program to monitor and enforce the above requirements.
How can I check if my safety barrier is compliant?
While there will be stricter laws on managing swimming pool and spa compliance, the requirement to have safety barriers hasn’t changed.
We recommend you carry out a self assessment of your pool/spa barrier using the following checklists before you engage a building inspector
A registered private building inspector/building surveyor must be engaged to do an inspection of the existing permanent safety barrier, and provide a Certificate of Pool & Spa Barrier Compliance (Form 23) to Council by the due date specified on the registration acknowledgement letter.
Regulations that apply to permanent safety barriers for existing swimming pools and spas can vary depending on the year the pool or spa was built.
Some key requirements to note:
- All outdoor swimming pools and spas built since May 1, 2010, must not have direct access to the pool area via a door from a building such as a house or garage.
- A building permit is required to be obtained prior to the installation of a safety barrier.
If a pool or spa – even an inflatable one – can hold 30cms or more of water it must have a safety fence or barrier that meets the Australian Standard (AS1926.1)
Gates around pools and spas must be self-closing and self-latching
You should never prop open a pool gate, even for a minute or two – this is illegal and is the main cause that leads to death
Take care to ensure there are no chairs, tables or any other objects near the pool fence – children could use these to climb over the fence.
Swimming pool and spa owners have legal obligations to maintain their safety barriers at all times. Non-compliance, for any reason, can increase the risk of drowning and lead to prosecution.
Lodging your Pool/Spa Barrier Compliance Certificate with Council
You will receive a letter via mail or email when you registered your Pool or Spa with Council that specifies the date when you are due to lodge a Certificate of Pool/Spa Barrier Compliance (Form 23) with Council.
Reminders are sent out via mail and email to all property owners with a registered Pool or Spa leading up to the due date for lodgement. Please ensure that your contact information is up to date with the Building Services team so you will receive these reminders.
You are required to have your pool or spa barrier inspected by a registered inspector or building surveyor before the due date and then lodge the Form 23 with Council by the due date to avoid fines and/or legal action.
Requesting an Extension of Time to lodge a Certificate of Compliance
If the owner of a registered swimming pool or spa is having difficulty arranging an inspection of a safety barrier, or they have had the barrier inspected and have been given direction to fix any issues of non-compliance, they are able to apply for an extension of time to the lodgement date. Council can consider granting extensions of time under certain circumstances but can only grant extensions for up to 6 months. Please contact our Building Services team for further information and the Extension of Time Request Form.
Penalties and Infringements
Penalties apply for failing to register your pool or spa or for failing to lodge a Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance by the date specified by Council. The maximum penalties are listed below:
- Failure to register your pool or spa - 10 penalty units
- Failure to lodge a Certificate of Pool/Spa Barrier Compliance with Council - 10 penalty units
- Failure to lodge a Certificate of Pool/Spa Barrier Non-Compliance with Council - 10 penalty units
- Failure to maintain the safety barrier - 50 penalty units
*Current penalty unit as of 1/07/2023 = $192.31
If you receive a Building Infringement Notice for one of the above offences you must comply with the steps to expiate the offence as stated on the Notice by the due date specified on the notice to avoid further legal action or prosecution and the incurring of further costs.
The Notice provides information on your options to have the matter dealt with in court or applying to have the Notice internally reviewed.
Further information about this process can be found at https://www.goldenplains.vic.gov.au/community/local-law-and-public-amenity/fines-penalties-and-internal-reviews-infringements
Further Information about Pool and Spa Barriers
Below is a copy of the maintenance requirements for swimming pools, spas and safety barriers from the Building Regulations 2018.
As the occupier of the property you are responsible for these requirements.
Division 2—Swimming Pool and Spa Maintenance and Operation
1219. Application of this Division
This Division applies to a swimming pool or spa that is appurtenant to a Class 1, 2, 3 or 10 building or a Class 4 part of a building.
1220. Swimming pool and spa maintenance and operation
(1) The occupier of an allotment or building containing a swimming pool or spa must take all reasonable steps to ensure that any fence or other barrier, door, gate, lock, latch, catch, bolt or fly screen restricting access to the swimming pool or spa is maintained and operating effectively at all times.
Penalty: 50 penalty units.
(2) The occupier of an allotment or building containing a swimming pool or spa must take all reasonable steps to ensure that any gate or door forming part of a swimming pool or spa barrier or fence that provides access to the swimming pool or spa is in the closed position except when a person is in the act of entering or leaving the part of the allotment or building containing the swimming pool or spa.
Penalty: 50 penalty units.
(3) A person who enters or leaves the part of an allotment or building containing a swimming pool or spa must ensure that any gate or door forming part of the swimming pool or spa barrier or fence that provides access to the swimming pool or spa is in the closed position at all times, except when that person or another person is in the act of entering or leaving that part of the allotment or building.
Penalty: 50 penalty units.
Should you have any queries regarding the safety of a swimming pool please contact Council’s Building department on 5220 7141 to discuss these requirements. Council may request inspections in the future to ensure compliance with these regulations.