New safety laws for owners of pools and spas
New State Government laws about pool and spa barriers came into force from 1 December 2019.
The new laws require:
- Mandatory registration of all private swimming pools and spas
- Introduction of a new compliance program to improve pool and spa safety.
Owners of existing swimming pools and spas will need to register their pool or spa with Council by 1 June 2020 or within 30 days after completion if their pool or spa is under construction.
To learn more about the new regulations and why they have been introduced click on the below links:
Register my pool/spa & next steps
As of 1 December 2019, property owners, including landlords, are required to register their pool or spa (including relocatable/inflatable pools & spas) with Council by 1 June 2020.
A fee of $31.80 applies when registering your pool or spa with Council.
Please note - If you are unable to provide copies of any relevant building permit and/or any other information or documentation that provides evidence of when the swimming pool or spa was constructed, an information search fee of $47.20 will apply.
This fee enables Council to conduct the appropriate searches to determine the date of construction of your pool or spa and any associated building permits, which determines the applicable barrier standard. The information search fee only applies to pools or spas constructed before 1 June 2020.
Information search fee of $47.20 does not apply to a relocatable swimming pool or spa (under reg 147N).
> Next steps
After registering your pool/spa, Council will need to confirm the date of construction and applicable regulations (Australian Standards) that the safety barrier is required to comply with. Once these details have been confirmed, Council will send you a Registration Certificate. These certificates are generally sent to you within 30 days of lodgement of the online registration form.
Once your pool/spa is registered with Council, you will need to arrange an inspection of the pool/spa barrier through a registered Building Surveyor or Building Inspector of your choosing. Council will inform you within the Registration Certificate when you need to complete the inspection by.
Once the Building Surveyor or Building Inspector has conducted the inspection and confirmed that your pool/spa safety barrier meets the regulations, they will provide a Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance. This Certificate also needs to be lodged with Council.
You can read more, including FAQs regarding the registration process, on the Victorian Building Authority's website.
> Relocatable (moveable or portable) pools
Relocatable (moveable or portable) pools and spas on land that you own must be registered if they are erected for three or more consecutive days.
- If it was erected before 1 June 2020 and remains erected for at least 3 consecutive days immediately before 1 June 2020, you must register by 4 June 2020.
- If it was erected on or after 1 June 2020 and remains erected for three consecutive days, you must register the pool and spa on the fourth day after it was erected.
If your relocatable pool or spa is only in place for a period less than three consecutive days, there is no need to apply for registration.
Information search fee of $47.20 does not apply to a relocatable swimming pool or spa (under reg 147N).
If you require further assistance, please contact us on 9217 2259 or email email@example.com.
> Inspection and Compliance process
Property owners are required to have their swimming pool and spa barriers inspected and certified by a registered Building Surveyor or Building Inspector.
After you have registered your pool/spa, Council will send you a pool/spa Registration Certificate. This certificate will tell you the date by which the pool/spa barrier inspection is required to be completed, which will be based on the construction or alteration date of the pool/spa.
Dates for lodgement of the Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance are as follows:
Pool/spa construction date
Compliance Certificate must be lodged by
On or before 30 June 1994
Due by 1 June 2021
From 1 June 1994 until 30 April 2010
Due by 1 June 2022
From 1 May 2010 until 31 May 2020
Due by 1 June 2023
Pools and spas constructed on or after 1 June 2020
Due within 30 days of occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection. This certificate must accompany your application for registration
Following the initial inspection, you are required to lodge a Certificate of Barrier Compliance every 4 years.
Once your pool/spa is registered with Council, you will need to arrange an inspection of the pool/spa barrier through a registered Building Surveyor or Building Inspector of your choosing.
The registered Building Surveyor or Building Inspector will provide you with a Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance once they have confirmed that the pool/spa safety barrier meets the regulations. You are then required to lodge a copy of the certificate of compliance to Council.
A fee of $20.40 applies when lodging the certificate.
> How can I find a Building Surveyor/inspector to undertake an inspection?
Please click here to the ‘Find a Practitioner’ section of the Victorian Building Authority website (category Building Inspector/Building Surveyor)
Please note that the pool/spa barrier inspection fee is set by the relevant Building Surveyor/Inspector and is to be paid by the pool/spa owner.
> What happens if the Building Surveyor/Inspector finds a problem with my pool/spa barrier?
If the Building Surveyor/Inspector finds an issue with your pool/spa barrier, resulting in the barrier not complying with the safety regulations, you will have 60 days to resolve the issue(s).
Once the issue(s) are resolved, the Building Surveyor/Inspector will issue you with a Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance which you can then lodge with Council.
If the issue(s) are not resolved within the specified timeframes, the Building Surveyor/Inspector will issue a Certificate of Non-Compliance and will submit to Council. Council will then contact you to issue a barrier improvement notice, which will need to be actioned within 14 days.
For more information, including FAQs regarding the inspections and compliance process, please click here to view the Victorian Building Authorities website.
> What if I fail to comply?
All pool/spa owners are responsible got registration and periodic inspections of the pool/spa safety barrier to ensure that the barrier continues to meet the relevant safety regulations.
If you do not register your pool/spa by 1 June 2020, this will result in an infringement notice (2 penalty units – approx. $330).
If you do not comply with Council’s directions to ensure compliance with the regulations, this may result in the referral to the magistrate.
> Is my pool or spa compliant?
While there will be stricter laws on managing pool and spa compliance, the requirement to have compliant safety barriers hasn’t changed. You are already expected to have compliant safety barriers in place.
You can check if your pool or spa barriers are compliant using the Victorian Building Authority’s three self-assessment checklists.
Safety standards and regulations
What defines a swimming pool or spa?
A swimming pool or spa is any excavation or structure containing water and principally used, designed, manufactured or adapted to be used for swimming, wading, paddling or the like, including a bathing or wading pool, or spa that are capable of containing a depth of more than 300mm of water.
- in-ground swimming pools
- indoor swimming pools
- above-ground swimming pools (including permanent and temporary pools)
- swim spas
- bathing and wading pools
- hot tubs.
What are safety barriers?
Safety barriers are designed to help restrict unsupervised entry by young children to the swimming pool or spa area.
A safety barrier may consist of a:
and includes attachments, such as:
- self closing devices.
Provided their use & physical characteristics such as heights, gaps, rigidity etc. meet the requirements of the applicable safety standards required.
When is a safety barrier not required?
A safety barrier is not required for:
- An excavation or structure that is NOT designed, manufactured or adopted to be used principally for swimming, paddling or wading, such as bird baths, fish ponds, fountains, dams and water supply/storage tanks
- swimming pools or spas not capable of containing a depth of water greater than 300mm
- inflatable swimming pools (typically toddler or wading pools) not capable of containing a depth of water greater than 300 mm
- spas inside a building that are used for personal hygiene, such as a spa bath in a bathroom.
Do I need a Building Permit?
A Building Permit is required for the construction of, and alterations to:
- all swimming pools - in ground and above ground capable of holding water greater than 300mm deep
- associated pool or spa safety barriers.
The Building Permit documentation must include details of:
- site plan showing location of swimming pool or spa, barriers, and any existing buildings on site
- the type and location of the safety barriers, including fences, gates, doors, windows, latches, catches, self-closing devices and mesh screens
- water reticulation and filtration equipment (manufacturer's specifications).
From 1 May 2010 outdoor pools cannot be accessed directly from a building or adjoining property.
After a Building Permit is issued, safety barriers must be completed within 6 months of building work commencing on the swimming pool or spa.
Your responsibilities as a pool or spa owner
It is a requirement of the Victorian Building Regulations that any swimming pool or spa capable of containing more than a depth of 300mm of water must have compliant safety barriers.
It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that compliant safety barriers are in place.
A Building Permit must be obtained prior to the construction of a swimming pool, spa and for their associated safety barriers.
During construction it is common for temporary fencing to be erected under the Building Permit to allow completion of the pool construction. Ensure you read the contract and discuss the details with your builder to understand what is included and what isn’t.
The design and location of permanent fencing should be finalised during the design stage, prior to obtaining a building permit. Engage a registered Building Practitioner to advise on compliance issues for your barrier design.
Temporary fencing is not acceptable as an ongoing or long-term barrier system for swimming pools and spas.
Compliant and permanent safety barriers must be completed within 6 months of the commencement of pool or spa works.
Prior to filling your pool for the first time you must have a compliant safety barrier in place that has been inspected and approved by the relevant Building Surveyor.
Your Building Surveyor will require detailed documentation relating to the pool or spa structure as well as fencing details to demonstrate how compliance will be achieved in accordance with the Australian Standard and the Building Regulations.
Your Building Surveyor will issue you with a Certificate of Final Inspection as evidence that the pool or spa and associated safety barriers comply with the Building Permit documentation & applicable barrier standard.
Once completed and approved, maintenance of the pool and safety barriers is the responsibility of the property owner. Safety barriers must be maintained in compliant working order at all times.
Once pool safety barriers have been installed in compliance with Australian Standard AS 1926.1, it is imperative that property owners with swimming pools be aware of their obligations.
Pool owners are obligated under Part 9 Division 2 of the Building Regulations 2018 to ensure the swimming pool safety barriers are maintained to restrict access.
Buying/selling a home
If you own or are purchasing a home with a swimming pool or spa and are not sure that the swimming pool or spa fence or barrier complies, contact a Private Building Surveyor or Inspector to arrange for an inspection.
Why barriers are important
Children under the age of 5 are at highest risk for both fatal and non-fatal drownings (including mild to severe brain or other organ damage due to lack of oxygen) with swimming pools recording the largest number of non-fatal drownings.
Between June 2007 and July 2018, 14 children under the age of 5 have died and 37 children have had non-fatal injuries from home swimming pools in Victoria (Department of Justice).
To protect young children, active supervision of young children in and around swimming pools and spas is required at all times.