Proposed changes to the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 (‘Act’), if passed, will give owners more choice about how they restrict access to their pools, but rules will be tightened generally and the inspection process unified.
The existing rules have been criticised as inconsistent and cumbersome. The Act is implemented by local councils, and there are no strict guidelines for how they should act. Some local councils consider garden ponds and other water hazards as a ‘pool’ to be fenced, while others do not. Some will provide a (costly) fencing exemption to spas that are otherwise child-resistant… and some councils carry out regular compliance inspections, while others not at all.
The Act allows part of your house to form part of the pool fence. However, it can be difficult for your local council to consent to a door opening directly into the pool area. Existing rules only allow this where your local council is satisfied that to do otherwise is impossible or unreasonable – leaving inconsistent results with different local councils and owners with fewer choices on how they can best restrict access to their pools.
The Ministry of Building and Construction has released consultation documents and taken submissions on proposed changes to the Act, and has indicated that existing laws will soon be updated. No clear timeframe has been provided for the implementation of the proposed changes.
For most pool owners – not a lot. Existing fences that meet the current rules will still meet the new proposed rules. Regular local council inspections will, however, become compulsory to ensure continued compliance with the Act.
For new pool owners, there will be more flexibility around how access to pools can be restricted.
Finally, more portable pools will need to be adequately fenced. Portable pool owners will need to ensure that they comply with the proposed changes, as local councils will be able to issue infringement notices if they do not.