New regulations to affect NSW home owners with pools
Home owners and strata owners corporations within New South Wales who have a swimming pool have until the end of April to register their pools and spas, according to new regulations which are set to come into action from autumn this year.
For owners of apartments in blocks with swimming pools and spas these new regulations could mean that owners are unable to sell or let their properties out if these pools do not meet safety standards.
Time is already ticking with the State Government already warning owners that the majority of apartment blocks with pools are likely to fail the certification checks. This comes as bad news for those owners who have yet to register an inspection, as strata industry experts are stating that owners may already be out of time to fix the issues. This is due to lengthy waiting lists for inspections and the time to fix these problems already going beyond the April 29th deadline.
Home owners and strata owners corporations must register their swimming pool or spa on the NSW Swimming Pool Register, and then get a certificate of pool safety. This certificate covers everything from gates, signage, pool fencing and other safety issues, and this must be attached to their lease or sales contracts before the property can be put on the market.
However, it is generally not a quick process. If swimming pools or spas do not adhere to these new regulations and safety checks then, “the time frame for rectifying non-compliant pool areas can take months, even longer in the case of strata schemes," says Anthea Ellis, a lawyer at strata specialists Makinson d'Apice. "We know of one particular scheme where it took one year from the initial inspection to make the pool compliant.
It doesn’t help either with some local councils already three or four months behind due to lack of resources. These regulations were meant to come into force in April 2014, but due to the long waiting list for inspections in some council areas, it was decided to introduce these new regulations this year instead.
From an inspection, owners would then have six weeks to fix any problems to make the pool compliant, providing that the certifier did not believe the pool posed a significant risk to health and safety. For those that do not meet council orders to make the pool compliant, fines of up to $5,500 could be issued.
It is important to note that landlords who do not provide a certificate of compliance to their tenants are also liable for pecuniary penalties.
According to the NSW Fair Trading’s website, “Most swimming pools are not compliant and will need to have work done before a certificate of compliance can be issued.
Only half of all NSW strata schemes are professionally managed which means that there is a high chance of some strata schemes not even being aware that their pool needs fixing. They might only become aware of the problem once they try to let or sell their apartments and their real estate agent refuses to take their listing.
It is advised that any owners who have a swimming pool should register for an inspection as soon as possible to avoid any fines or penalties. Many tenants like to live in an apartment that has pool or spa facilities so it is the owners favour to gain the certificate of compliance.
For more information about the new regulations, the Owners Corporation Network has useful fact sheets for people selling and leasing units in blocks with pools on their website www.ocn.org.au.
Published on 2nd of February 2015 by Marty Stanowich