After a 2-year review of the Swimming Pools Act 1992, amendments to the Act were passed by Parliament on 23 October. The changes made by the Swimming Pools (Amendment) Act 2012 include the following:
- to establish a State-wide on line register of all private swimming pools in NSW;
- to require that pool owners self-register, free of charge, and certify to the best of their knowledge their pool complies with the relevant requirements;
- to require that councils develop and adopt a locally appropriate and affordable inspection program in consultation with their communities;
- to require that councils conduct mandatory periodic (3-yearly) inspections of pools associated with tourist and visitor accommodation;
- to amend the Building Professionals Act 2005 to allow accredited certifiers to conduct inspections and issue certificates of compliance for swimming pools when requested by pool owners; and
- to amend the conveyancing and residential leases legislation Conveyancing (Sale of Land) Regulation 2010 and the Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010) to require that vendors and landlords have a valid swimming pool compliance certificate before they may offer the property for sale or lease.
The swimming pools register is to become operational after 6 months of the commencement of the Act and allows a 6 months phase-in period from when the register goes live, within which all private pools in NSW must be registered. Mandatory certification of properties with swimming pools offered for sale or lease and the provisions allowing accredited certifiers to commence inspections will commence in 18 months.
A new offence is created for failing to register a swimming pool, attracting a penalty notice of $220, with a maximum court imposed penalty of $2,200. The amendments exempt owners of new swimming pools from the need to obtain a certificate of compliance for a period of three years, where an occupation certificate has been issued and removes the automatic exemptions for those pools that are fenced voluntarily.
An authorised council officer is able to enter the premises with a swimming pool to investigate where a complaint has been made or they suspect the pool does not meet the required standards.
Councils will be provided with guidance on how to develop locally tailored, risk-based inspection programs (ie which pools should be inspected and how often). Councils will be provided with the option of recovering the cost of these inspections from pool owners, with a capped maximum fee.
Note: This information is not to be relied upon as legal advice.