[Note: Most of the below information is an extract from the Royal Life Saving – “Be Pool Safe” website which can be found by clicking here)
The recent spate of drownings, has prompted me to look further into the swimming pool obligations of Landlords and Property Managers in our State of NSW. My research showed that children under five, remain the age group at the highest risk of a drowning across Australia. This is the case for the whole of Australia whereby over the past 25 years, a total of 965 children under the age of five have died from drowning! Rental properties are not immune to these statistics and as a landlord, the last thing you want on your conscience, is to know that a child has lost their live in your property! Just tragic to say the least!
The figures are just horrifying, and whist during the past 25 years there has been a decline of 67% on drownings, we all must remain vigilant at all times and be clear of the obligations bestowed upon us by Law. The ONLY encouraging news in this story, is that the 67% decline, made possible because of stricter rules, equates to hundreds of lives saved!
It is estimated that 567 children’s lives have been saved between 1998 and 2018, as a result of the strengthening of relevant legislations.
Current Legislation and Inclusions/Exclusions
The current swimming pool and spa laws for all NSW properties (including rental properties), came into force on the 29th of April, 2015. Since that day, all rental properties with a swimming pool or spa, must have a valid swimming pool occupation certificate of compliance before they can be rented out. It is a condition of signing a Tenancy Agreement, that if a property has a swimming pool, the certificate of compliance has been acquired and a copy is given to the tenant to keep. In my view, Property Managers should not even attempt to advertise their property or even attempt to show prospective tenants (with or without accompanying children) through a property with a pool, unless they have made sure to be in possession of a certificate first!
Pool compliance certificates – which will be granted should a pool’s fencing and surrounding areas meet regulation, are valid for 3 years. Use of the pool is ONLY authorised when the occupants of the property – the tenant and their guests in our case – are in possession of a current certificate. The regulations are quite complex and depend on when the pool was built, the height and design of the fence and what is in the surrounding areas.
Tenants MUST be provided by Law with a less than 3 years old certificate of compliance upon signing the residential tenancy agreement.
It should be noted that
- All in ground, above-ground, indoor, portable and other types of pools and spas that are capable of being filled to a depth of 300mm or more of water come under consideration, whereas,
- Bathroom spas, that are used as baths and emptied after use are NOT, as is the case for any property that is part of a strata or community scheme of more than TWO lots.
The latter is because responsibilities for pools and spas in Strata and Community Title Schemes rests jointly with all unit owners. It is therefore the owners corporation’s (or ‘body corporate’) responsibility to ensure that there is a valid certificate of compliance or occupation certificate for all such pools. The same applies in community title schemes, where responsibility rests with the community association.
The above mean that, if you are a landlord owning a standalone rental property with a swimming pool or spa, you are NOW under the consideration of the NSW Swimming Pools Act AND you should be aware of your requirements under the Law (as should be your Property Manager).
Whilst properties in strata and community schemes are not included, any property with 2 units or less of occupancy with a structure that is capable of being filled to a depth of 300mm or more of water, comes under consideration.
Obtaining a certificate and Property Manager Requirements
So how do certificates of compliance get issued and by who? They are issued by the local councils or accredited certifiers under the Building Professional Act after a visual inspection of the pool and surrounding area. If the pool meets all the safety requirements a certificate will be issued. If the requirements are NOT met, then rectification work will be necessary.
To check if your property (with a swimming pool) has a certificate of compliance already, please go to NSW Swimming Pool Register and search for your property. If you can’t find your property, our recommendation is to raise the alarm with your Property Manager IMMEDIATELY who will be required to contact their local council as either the pool hasn’t not been registered OR no certificate was ever issued.
Landlords can check if their rental property has a valid Pool Certificate of Compliance by going to www.swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au NOW!
Local councils charge $150 for an initial pool safety inspection, and $100 if a second inspection is required (accredited certifiers set their own schedule of fees). There could be additional rectification costs. These costs are only required once every 3 years and are tax deductible. When one considers the magnitude of risks associated with pools, the costs are therefore negligible!
If you are a Landlord with a property that has a pool, it is in your best interest to be aware of the requirements and I would suggest, you should also be making sure your Property Manager is doing what they are meant to – including always having a current certificate AND remembering to renew it every 3 years. Not all Property Managers are as diligent as they should be!
This is because swimming pool legislative requirements are now well known and in the eyes of the law, Landlords cannot absolve themselves by passing their responsibilities to their Property Manager in the event of an accident. Should a disaster happen whereby a tenant or their guest loses their life, not knowing would not be a valid excuse in front of our courts. It is also quite likely that public liability contained in landlord insurances, becomes void if the accident is assessed to be the result of “negligence” which would be the case if the pool had not been inspected and was allowed to be used.
Your Landlord Insurance Public Liability will most likely not cover you in the event of a drowning in your pool, IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A VALID CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE!
As Landlords and Property Managers, ensuring the safety and well being of our tenants (especially children), is not only our obligation to society and the Law, it also makes good business sense by reducing the personal and financial risks. You don’t want your tenants to become a statistics, neither do you want to have it on your conscience.
Can you really afford to just leave it to chance? I wouldn’t. If your rental property has a pool, make sure to speak to your Property Manager today.
Who we are:
NextGen Property Mgmt (www.nextgenpm.com.au) is a boutique Real Estate licensed agency that specialises in property management. NextGen Property Mgmt does NOT has a sales team unlike most other agencies that specialise in Sales and have Property Management as a side business.
Our area of focus is residential property and we operate in Inner and South West Sydney, as well as St George.
NextGen was created from its infancy to cater for investors as it was founded by investors who quickly realised that in a highly regulated industry like Real Estate – competence, expertise, care and service by Property Managers varies greatly.
As an investor, you need to have trust for and feel valued by your Property Manager. You need to know that your property is being looked after with minimal disruption and you are getting maximum return for your investment. At NextGen we understand that because we are investors living busy lives ourselves, so our promise to you is that you will no longer have to worry about your most valued asset because we will make sure to take care of it as if it is our own.
If you want to learn more about us just click here to organise a time for a chat. Or call us on 0414 494 840. We would love to hear from you and to share our story.