What you need to know about the new Victorian pool fence laws
Since 2018, Melbourne pool owners have had to adhere to the requirements of the Victorian Building Regulations. This is in regards to swimming pools, spas, safety barriers and the maintenance of safety barriers. These regulations state that swimming pool and spa owners have a legal obligation to follow the guidelines, and to maintain a safe swimming environment. As of the 1st December 2019 a new safety barrier law has been introduced to prevent swimming pool and spa drownings in Australia.
A new law has recently been introduced in Victoria to ensure that swimming pools and spas are installed and maintained as safely as possible. As of the 1st of December 2019, these new laws came into effect. The laws apply to swimming pools and spas that are able to hold more than 30cm of water, including permanent pools, above ground pools, indoor pools, hot tubs and spas. Relocatable pools that do not require assembly are an exception and are not expected to meet the safety barrier guidelines. These new laws introduce a registration method, inspection requirements, and new certificates for property owners.
Pool owners are now required to engage a registered building surveyor or building inspector to complete an inspection of the pool and issue a safety compliance certificate. Once the pool or spa has been registered, the local council will advise the pool owner when the first certificate of pool barrier compliance is due. Pool owners must arrange an inspection with a surveyor and lodge the certificate with the local council by the due date.
These new changes also require owners to have the safety barrier examined every four years to ensure that it meets the requirements. Even with the new laws introducing an inspection every four years, it’s still important to regularly check and maintain your safety barriers to ensure they are functioning as they should. To see the media release from SPASA VIC please click here.
Registering your pool or spa
Pool and Spa owners in Victoria have until the 1st of June 2020 to register their pool and/or spa with your local council. A maximum fee of $31.84 can be charged by the council for failing to do so. If a pool or spa has been constructed after the 1st of June 2020, it must be registered within 30 days of receiving an occupancy permit or a certificate of final inspection to ensure that you don’t receive a fine. Your local pool builder should be able to provide you guidance on the pool fencing laws with any new pool construction.
If an inspector concludes that your safety barrier is not compliant with the guidelines, they can either issue a certificate of barrier non-compliance, or issue a written notice that specifies the matters which must be addressed, the time period that the barrier must be amended by, and a date and time that the barrier will be re-inspected. After the barrier has been re-inspected and it’s concluded that the barrier is acceptable, the inspector will issue a certificate of barrier compliance, which you will then need to lodge with the local council.
If it’s determined that your barrier is still non-compliant after re-inspection, then the inspector will issue a certificate of barrier non-compliance and lodge it with the local council. The council will then notify the pool owner and request a fee to be paid. If a barrier is found to have minor non-compliance issues, then a barrier improvement notice may be issued by a building surveyor. This notice will explain exactly what you must fix in order for the barrier to be compliant with the regulations, as well as the period of time in which it must be fixed.
Certificate of compliance lodgement dates are as follows:
- Pools and spas constructed prior to June 30th, 1994 must be lodged before June 1st 2021
- Pools and spas constructed between July 1st 1994 and 1st May 2010 must be lodged by 1st June 2022
- Pools and spas constructed between May 1st 2010 and 31st May 2020 must be lodged by 1st June 2022
- Pools and spas constructed on or after June 1st 2020 must be lodged within 30 days of the occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection
What you should do if you are a pool owner?
- Firstly, you will need to register your pool with your local council before June 1st 2020. You can usually do this via your local council’s website.
- Before registering you will need to know the year of your pool construction. If your year of construction is unknown the council may charge a search fee up to $47.24
- Once your pool and/or spa is registered with your local council you can arrange your inspection with a registered building surveyor or building inspector. The Victorian Building Authority has a practitioner finder tool here.
- Once you have received your certificate of compliance from your building inspector you will need to lodge the certificate with your local council within 30 days of receiving the approval documents. At this point you will need to pay a lodgement fee of $20.44.
- Should your pool barriers not comply, or you fail to register your pool with the local council you may be charged extra fees. You can read more on fees here.
If you still have questions to clarify regarding the new laws around swimming pool fencing, or you’re interested in a free site visit to discuss a new fibreglass pool build in South East Melbourne, Bayside, the Mornington Peninsula or surrounding suburbs please contact our pool construction experts here.