The NSW laws relating to backyard swimming pools are constantly evolving, and it pays to be up to date so that our children are protected. Here, you can brush up on the current pool laws as well as get to know the new laws that will soon apply to people leasing or selling homes with a pool.
Each year about six children die in private swimming pools in NSW. A majority of these children are under five and most die at their own homes (based on deaths between 2007 and 2011).
To help prevent any deaths, NSW requires outdoor swimming pools to be fenced, and access to indoor swimming pools to be restricted. These rules apply to structures that hold more than 300mm of water and are designed for recreational activities, including some spas and some portable and inflatable pools.
Pool fencing laws (for pools built after 1 July 2010)
- The height of a pool fence must be at least 1.2m above the ground from finished ground level
- The gap at the bottom of the pool fence must not be more than 10cm from finished ground level
- Gaps between between any vertical bars in the fence must not be more than 10cm
- To prevent children climbing over pool fences any horizontal climbable bars on the fence must be at least 90cm apart from each other.
- Trees, shrubs or any other objects such as a barbecue, pot plants, toys, ladders and chairs must not be within the 90cm ‘non climbable zone’.
- Any part of the boundary fence that is part of the pool fence or is within the 90cm ‘non climbable zone’ must not have any horizontal bars.
- Some older swimming pools might include doors or windows as part of as part of the pool fence or barrier. This is no longer allowed in the building of new pools.
- Pool gates must swing outwards (away from the pool area).
- Pool gates must shut automatically from any open position, without having to forcibly close them.
- Pool gates must automatically lock (self-latch) when they close.
More detailed regulations, plus regulations for pools built before 1 July 2010, can be found here.
Is your pool registered?
In 2013, NSW’s pool regulations were strengthened so that pools now must be registered This can be done yourself online at the NSW Swimming Pool Register, or through your local council (councils may charge a fee of up to $10). Inspections can be arranged through a private certifier or your local council.
If you’d like to get an idea of how your pool stacks up self-assessment checklists are available on the NSW Swimming Pool Register website. Be aware, however, that the rules vary depending on when the pool was constructed, where it is (for example inside or outside), and the type of pool (for example spa, portable or outdoor).
Leasing or selling a property with a pool?
All residential properties with pools must have a current compliance certificate before they can be sold or leased (to take effect from 29 April, 2015). In a strata scheme this certificate will be held by the body corporate. A compliance certificate simply means that the pool and pool barrier meet the current safety requirements.
While this seems straightforward, it’s estimated that 95 per cent of pools fail their first inspection. This could mean delays in getting your property on the market while you wait for repairs and maintenance to be carried out and the certificate to be issued (this alone can take up to 90 days).
For more information, check out the following fact sheets.
Leasing a property with a swimming pool or spa pool
Selling a property with a swimming pool or spa pool
Pool laws can be confusing, especially when a pool is built against a house or other dwelling. If there is any doubt about the safety of your pool, please contact your local council as soon as possible.
More on child safety…
- NSM tips: How to make your home safe for kids
- Are portable cots safe?
- For swimming classes, see NSM Essential Guide to Kids’ Classes 2015