The 1st day of December is usually when we all put up the Xmas tree and the decorations. The Xmas lights go up outside the house and the plastic Santa & Reindeer with lights holds pride of place in the front yard. However, this Xmas in Queensland, the 1st day of December will be a more serious date for many homeowners who have a pool or an outdoor spa!
From 1st December 2015, Queensland pool owners face tough new laws concerning pool fencing and inspections from council officers… and they are not as generous or jolly as Santa.
The maximum penalty that can be imposed by court for pool safety offences is $19 437 for individuals and $97 185 for corporations. On the spot fines of up to $824.00 for individuals or $2356 for corporations can be issued to pool owners by local governments and , in some cases, the QBCC. Many pool owners have been unable to engage contractors to repair or install pool fences as there has been an unprecedented rush to have last minute pool fences installed or upgraded before the new deadline. Contractors say they are literally booked out for months ahead and have no hope of completing all work in the system. Where does that leave owners who have non-complying pools who cannot get contractors in due to the backlog? The State Government and Councils have been taking a fairly tough attitude, pointing out that owners have had over 5 years to get their affairs in order. It remains to be seen what measues will be taken by the Councils but it is possible they will issue compliance notices initially and provide people with further time to have the works done. The problem will then be finding a contractor to do the work! It is also possible they will issue fines without providing further time for compliance which will cause financial hardship and stress to many owners. No doubt there will be legal issues involved and possible challenges to the fines.
If you book in a formal inspection and your pool does not comply you will receive a non-conformity notice. If you don’t book in a re-inspection within 90 days the pool inspector is required to give a copy of the notice to your local Council.
The laws affect pools and outdoor spas on properties, unit, hotels, motels, backpacker hotels, caravan parks, mobile van parks and other forms of short-term accommodation.
Pool safety Certificates for non-shared pools are valid for two years. For shared pools the certificate is only valid for one year.
Thinking of installing a new pool as a Christmas present to your family? All new swimming pools require building approval. The building certifier who provided building approval must inspect and certify the pool safety barrier before the pool is filled to a depth of 300 millimetres or more. Compulsory follow-up inspections are also required within six months if a new pool is being added to an existing property. If the pool is alongside a new building, a follow up inspection needs to be done within two years. If building approval lapses earlier than the mandatory inspection time the final inspection must be completed before the approval lapses.
Interested in the finer details of how your pool should comply?
Click here for a full breakdown of the Queensland Government Department of Housing and Public Works pool safety laws
Want to search to see if a property is registered on the Queensland Pool Safety Register? Click here
The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) offer a helpful Pool Compliance Checklist. Click here for access
Fortunately for NSW residents, they are not the same as QLD when it comes to pool fencing and do not have this worry and expense just prior to Xmas. Although the laws regarding pool safety in NSW have always been quite stringent, Vendors will be required to have a Certificate of Compliance for their pools by 29 April 2016, if they want to sell their property. Accordingly, not only do they have until April next year, it is only required if they intend to sell or lease their property.
If you require a referral to a trusted Building, Pest and Pool Inspector or have any questions about the above article, or any Property or Commercial matter don’t hesitate to contact Holly Gilholme on 07 55 068 202 or [email protected]