On 1 December 2019, the Victorian Government introduced new laws to improve the safety of swimming pools and spas. The new laws make it compulsory for property owners to register their pool or spa with their local council, and have their pool inspected and certified.
As part of the new laws, you are also required to have your pool barrier re-inspected and certified every 4 years. This is to make sure that safety standards continue to be met.
What is a pool safety certificate?
A pool safety certificate is mandatory under Victorian law, and can only be issued by a qualified pool safety inspector. If you own a pool or spa, you will need to get a pool safety certificate, also sometimes called a certificate of barrier compliance.
The inspection must be done by a registered building surveyor or inspector, or a municipal building surveyor. If the inspection finds that your pool or spa is unsafe, then it is your responsibility to make it safe.
Why do you need pool safety certification?
Pool safety certification is required by law. Plus, it will help keep your family and loved ones safe. As part of Victorian pool safety laws, property owners are required to have their pool barrier inspected and certified. This includes both owner-occupiers and landlords who lease out their properties to tenants.
Property owners and tenants are also responsible for making sure that pool barriers are maintained and kept in good working order.
The deadlines for lodging a pool safety certificate depends on when your pool was built:
- Pools built on or before 30 June 1994 need to lodge a certificate of compliance by
1 November 2021;
- Pools built between 1 July 1994 and 30 April 2010 need to lodge a certificate of compliance
by 1 November 2022;
- Pools built between 1 May 2010 and 31 October 2020 need to lodge a certificate of
compliance by 1 November 2023;
- Pools built after 1 November 2020 need to lodge a certificate of compliance within 30 days
of an occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection.
If you miss the deadline for lodging the certificate of compliance, you could face an on-the-spot fine of $330 and a penalty of up to $1,652.
What does pool safety certification involve?
Pool safety certification involves a professional inspector checking that your pool conforms with the applicable safety standard. Different standards apply depending on when your pool was built, but some common requirements include:
- Pool fencing must be in good working condition.
- Pool fencing must be at least 1200mm high.
- Pool fencing must not be installed close to any structures (e.g. garden beds) that could be
used to climb the fence.
- Pool fencing must not have any handholds or footholds that can be used to climb into the
- Pool fencing must not have any gaps at the bottom bigger than 100mm.
- Pool gates must be outward opening.
- Pool gates must be self-closing and self-latching from all positions.
Apart from these requirements, pool inspectors may also check other safety aspects, such as trip hazards and electrical wiring.
If the pool safety inspector deems your barrier to be compliant with Australian standards, they will give you a pool safety certificate. This is also known as a certificate of barrier compliance.
If the inspector deems your barrier to be non-compliant, you will have up to 60 days to fix any problems. The inspector will then need to come back for another inspection, to confirm that the issues have been fixed.
If you don’t fix the issues identified, the inspector will issue a certificate of non-compliance and lodge it with the local council. When the council receives a certificate of non-compliance, they may issue a barrier improvement notice. If you don’t comply with the barrier improvement notice, you could be fined up to $1,652.
After pool safety certification
After inspection and certification are completed, you will need to lodge the certificate of compliance with your local council. You have up to 30 days of receiving the certificate to lodge it.
By law, pool safety certification is required every four years. Your council will give you a written notice that confirms the date your first safety certificate was lodged, and when the next certificate is due.
If you make significant changes to a pool area or fence after you get a pool safety certificate, then you must organise a reinspection. Any change that requires a building permit is considered a significant change.
It is in your own interest to arrange for pool safety certification as soon as possible, to ensure that you can meet the legislative deadlines. There may be a shortage of inspectors close to the deadline since all pool owners in Victoria will need certification. Apart from avoiding potential fines, pool safety certification helps to prevent drowning and other injuries.
If you are looking to buy a property that has a pool or spa, it’s also a good idea to get a pool safety report. Just like a pest report or building report, a pool safety report will give you peace of mind.
For professional advice and help about pool safety certification, contact one of our professional team members today.