Strata Communities often overlook the legislative requirements to ensure that the Body Corporate is in possession of a current Pool Safety Certificate. This is not only a compliance issue that attracts fines, but can also put the safety of residents and their children at risk as well as the risk of potential liability on the Body Corporate and its service providers.
In this article we answer common questions on certification and provide our top tips for keeping your pool safe.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ENSURE YOUR BODY CORPORATE IS IN POSSESSION OF A CURRENT POOL SAFETY CERTIFICATE?
Request one from the Body Corporate or a copy from the onsite manager and keep it file, diarising when it expires. If they can’t locate a copy or are unsure, you can go to https://my.qbcc.qld.gov.au/s/pool-register to check if your Body Corporate is registered and have a current certificate.
WHAT IF ONE OF THE OWNERS ARE SELLING OR LEASING THEIR PROPERTY?
A property with a shared pool (unit or townhouse) may be sold or leased with no certificate, but for a sale the owner must give the prospective buyer a Form 36 Notice of no certificate before entering into a contract for sale. The buyer must also give a Form 36 to the body corporate and QBCC before settlement (or the new lease). The pool owner (body corporate) must obtain a certificate within 90 days after settlement of the sale (or lease). The Body Corporate should act immediately if a Form 36 is received to rectify non-compliance and safety issue of not having a current certificate.
WHAT HAPPENS IF A POOL DOESN’T COMPLY WHEN IT IS INSPECTED BY A POOL SAFETY INSPECTOR?
The inspector must issue a nonconformity notice (Form 26) advising how the pool doesn’t comply and what needs to be done to make it comply. Some pool safety inspectors are licensed to carry out certain minor repairs. If not, then the owner must do them or they engage another contractor to perform them. Schedule 2C of the Building Regulation 2006 sets out the repairs and maintenance work pool owners can carry out themselves Schedule 2B sets out the minor repairs an appropriately licensed inspector may do. If you need the pool re-inspected within three months after receiving the nonconformity notice, you must re engage the original inspector. It is an offence to engage a different inspector in that three month period without written approval from QBCC. If you don’t ask the inspector to re-inspect within three months, they must notify the local government. If a pool owner disagrees with a nonconformity notice (Form 26), they may appeal to a Development Tribunal established under the Planning Act 2016.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR NON-COMPLIANCE?
The courts can impose penalties of over $100,000 for corporations for non-compliance with the pool safety laws. Local governments issue on-the-spot fines of over $2,600 for corporations for non- compliance. QBCC issues on-the-spot fines of over $6,000 for corporations for failure to obtain a pool safety certificate in the event of sale or lease. Similar penalties apply for occupiers of a property, including tenants, who don’t ensure gates and doors giving access to a pool are kept securely closed at all times when not in use. Tenants who install their own pool, such as a portable pool or spa, are responsible for ensuring the pool complies with the pool safety standard and obtain all required building approvals. Permission from the property owner may also be required.
WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU REQUIRE A POOL SAFETY CERTIFICATE?
Contact a local qualified Pool Safety Inspector to attend who can be found Here.
TOP TEN TIPS ON MAKING THE POOL SAFER FOR RESIDENTS
- A “shared pool” requires a new pool safety certificate every year. Check yours if you haven’t and diarise a month out from expiry to remind yourself to arrange an inspection and new certificate.
- The pool safety certificate MUST be displayed near the main entrance to the premises or the pool.
- A compliant CPR Chart MUST be on display and is legible and not faded.
- The gate MUST NOT swing inwards towards the pool area.
- The gate MUST be self-closing and self-latching from any position.
- Ensure the gate is regularly maintained.
- Ensure any branches within 900 millimetres of the pool barrier are trimmed. If there are branches overhanging from an adjacent property, you may need to negotiate with the neighbour to remove them.
- All climbable objects within the 900 millimetres non-climbable zone MUST be removed. Please note this covers fixed and free-standing items.
- Ensure the gap under the fence is not greater than 100mm and the ground is stable and firm.
- Ensure there are no horizontal gaps in the fence greater than 100mm.
This article was contributed by Chris Booth – National Head of Strata and Real Estate for Poolwerx