Selling a property with a swimming pool or spa?

Posted on Apr 11, 2016 by Christine Knoll   |   Categories: Property & Conveyancing

From 29 April 2016 all properties in New South Wales with a swimming pool or spa cannot be sold or leased without a valid Pool Certificate of Compliance or relevant Occupation Certificate or Pool Certificate of Non-Compliance. With over 300,000 residential swimming pools in NSW (according to Office of Local Government), the new laws will affect many properties.

What type of pool is included?

“Swimming pools and spa” includes in ground, above ground, indoor, portable and other types of pools and spa pools that are capable of being filled to a depth of 300mm or more of water.  Bathroom spas that are used as baths and emptied after use are not included.

Which pools does this apply to?

The new laws apply to swimming pools or spas associated with:

  • Private houses, townhouses, units and other strata and community schemes, and moveable dwellings.
  • Hotels, motels and serviced apartments.
  • Backpacker’s accommodation.
  • Homestay, farm stay and bed and breakfast accommodation.
  • Other tourist and visitor accommodation (excluding camping grounds, caravan parks, and eco-tourist facilities).

What is a “pool”?

A swimming pool means an excavation, structure or vessel:

  • That is capable of being filled with water to a depth greater than 300mm; and
  • That is solely or principally used, or that is designed, manufactured or adapted to be solely or principally used, for the purposes of swimming, wading, paddling or any other human aquatic activity, and includes a spa pool, but does not include a spa bath or anything that is situated within a bathroom.

Therefore, in ground, above ground, indoor, portable and other types of swimming pools and spa pools are included in these new swimming pool safety laws.

What is a swimming pool Certificate of Compliance?

A swimming pool certificate of compliance certifies that the pool and pool barrier meet the safety requirements.

Where to obtain a swimming pool Certificate of Compliance?

Your local council or an accredited certifier under the Building Professional Act can conduct an inspection, and issue a certificate of compliance if the swimming pool or spa meets all the safety requirements.

The NSW Swimming Pool Register provides information on registered pools and whether a certificate of compliance has been issued.  You can search the register by the property address.  Go to www.swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au.

Is an Occupation Certificate adequate?

An Occupation Certificate that is less than three years old and that authorises the use of the swimming pool can take the place of a certificate of compliance.  If such an Occupation Certificate is annexed to the Contract for Sale, the swimming pool registration certificate (created when the pool was registered on the NSW Swimming Pool Register) should also be provided.

How long does the Certificate of Compliance remain valid?

A swimming pool certificate of compliance is valid for a period of 3 years from the date of its issue.

Certificate of Non-Compliance.

Vendors are now able to transfer the obligation of obtaining a “Certificate of Compliance” to the purchaser.  A “Certificate of Non-compliance” can now be attached to the Contract for Sale.  The buyer of a property with a non-compliant swimming pool has 90 days from the date of settlement to address any issues of non-compliance and obtain a certificate of compliance.

Contracts for sale of land.

From 29 April 2016 when a property with a swimming pool or spa is being sold, a valid swimming pool certificate of compliance or a certificate of non-compliance (or an occupation certificate issued within the last 3 years) and a valid Certificate of Registration must be attached to the Contract for the Sale of Land. Failure to attach the certificate means that the purchaser may be entitled to rescind the Contract at any time within 14 days of exchange unless settlement has already occurred.

Home owners and property investors considering selling or leasing properties with a swimming pool or spa should apply for a Certificate of Compliance well in advance, to give ample time to carry out necessary work to comply.

If you require any further information or guidance on the new regulations, please contact our experienced property law team on (02) 4944 3322.