The Queensland Government has introduced new pool safety laws that will amend the Building Act 1975 (Qld). The laws affect new and existing pools.
The new pool safety laws will have significant implications for sellers, buyers, landlords, tenants and real estate agents.
Implications from 1 December 2010
From 1 December 2010, a party selling a home with an existing pool, must provide either:
- the buyer with a pool safety certificate before settlement of the contract; or
- the prospective buyer with a Notice of No Pool Safety Certificate, before entering into the contract of sale.
If a Notice of No Pool Safety Certificate is given to a prospective buyer, the seller must also provide a copy to the Department of Infrastructure and Planning (DIP) and, in some circumstances, to the body corporate, if the property is within a community titles scheme.
If a buyer purchases a property after having been issued with a Notice of No Pool Safety Certificate, the buyer must, at their expense, carry-out the work required to make the pool comply with the pool safety laws and obtain a pool safety certificate, within 90 days of settlement.
Parties selling or buying a home with a pool before or after 1 December 2010, should obtain legal advice on amendments that can be made to the proposed contract to deal with their obligations under the new pool safety laws.
Renting a home with a pool from 1 December 2010
From 1 December 2010, a landlord renting out a home with an existing pool, must:
- have a current pool safety certificate before entering into a rental agreement;
- if the pool is a shared pool, provide the tenant with a copy of the pool safety certificate before entering into the rental agreement; and
- display a copy of the pool safety certificate at the main entrance to the property or at each gate giving access to the pool.
The new laws impose penalties on real estate agents who arrange for a property with a pool to be rented when there is no current pool safety certificate for the pool.
Special requirements for shared pools
There are specific additional requirements for pools that are shared pools, such as pools located on common property within a community titles scheme. The owners of shared pools (usually the body corporate) have two years to obtain a pool safety certificate.
Shared pools associated with short-term accommodation, such as hotels and motels, have a six month period to obtain a pool safety certificate.
Pools located on common property within resorts under the Integrated Resort Development Act 1987 (Qld) or Sanctuary Cove Resort Act 1985 (Qld) must have a pool safety management plan approved within six months of the commencement of the new pool safety laws, unless there is current a pool safety certificate for the pool.
Do owners only need to obtain a pool safety certificate once?
Pool safety certificates are only valid for one year for shared pools and two years for non-shared pools. Owners will have to arrange a new pool safety certificate before the expiry of the existing certificate.
How to find a pool safety inspector to obtain a pool safety certificate
Pool safety certificates can only be issued by pool safety inspectors who are licensed for this purpose by the Pool Safety Council. A list of licensed pool safety inspectors is located on the DIP website.
Registration of all pools on the pool safety register by May 2011
Regardless of whether an owner is selling or renting a home, all pools must be registered on the pool safety register. The register can be located on the DIP website.
Records kept by local governments will be used to create a register of pools. The Department of Infrastructure and Planning recommends that each owner checks the register after 28 February 2011.
If a pool is not on the register, the owner is responsible for registering the pool by 4 May 2011. Penalties of up to $2,000 may apply for failure to register a pool.
All pools to comply with pool safety laws
All pools must comply with the new pool safety laws by 30 November 2015 (or earlier if they are sold or rented before that date).
The new safety requirements that require compliance by all pools are located in Mandatory Part 3.4 of the Queensland Development Code. The Code can be located on the DIP website.
Penalties of up to $16,500 for individuals and $82,500 for corporations apply for non-compliance
with the pool safety laws.