Fencing of Swimming Pools and FAQs
The Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016 came into effect 1 January 2017. It repeals the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 and includes new provisions in the Building Act 2004 relating to residential pools.
Homeowners, tenants, landlords and property managers carry joint responsibility for pool safety. Make sure your pool is always secure and ensure the safety regulations are met through regular maintenance of pool fences and gates.
Why you need to restrict access to your pool
The leading causes of children, aged five and younger, drowning or being injured in pools are:
• unsupervised access to pools through faulty gates and barriers
• ladders left against the pool and gates propped open
• small portable pools remaining full of water without supervision or a complying barrier.
Any portable or inflatable pool that can hold 400mm depth of water or more is required to have a barrier by law. Other portable pools like paddling pools should always be supervised and emptied after use.
All swimming pools in Central Otago should be on our pool register and must be inspected through a pool audit every 3 years. You can choose to have a pool audit carried out by the Council or an Independently Qualified Pool Inspector (IQPI).
You will need building consent before constructing any type of pool fence or altering a fence around a pool.
The new law no longer requires spa pools to be fenced. Spa pools will comply with the new law if they meet the following criteria:
• Access is restricted to young children by having a complying lockable child resistant cover.
• 760mm unclimbable sides.
• Water surface area of 5 square metres or less.
CODC has discretionary power to inspect any residential pool, including small heated pools, to determine whether the pool barrier requirements are being complied with.
CODC has new tools to enforce the pool barrier requirements and can issue a Notice to Fix for a non-compliant pool. Persons failing to comply with a Notice to Fix could receive an infringement notice or face prosecution.
- Swimming and Spa Pool Requirement guide (PDF, 910KB)
- Checklist for homeowners
- Pool fencing safety video from Auckland Council
Does my pool need to be fenced?
Yes! The Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016 repealed the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 and inserted requirements for residential pool safety in the Building Act 2004. All residential swimming pools need to have barriers to prevent access to pools by children under 5-years-of-age and must be inspected every 3 years.
Barriers are required for all residential pools that can be filled to a depth of 400mm or more and contain water, regardless of the amount of water.
Residential and Pool are defined as:
- Residential relates to a place of residence, including hotels, motels and similar accommodation.
- Pool relates to any type of excavation or structure that's used for swimming, paddling or bathing.
A residential pool barrier is not required for garden ponds and similar water hazards, which are not intended to fall within the definition of pool.
Who is responsible for making sure a pool barrier complies?
All pools require a building consent for the barrier that surrounds the pool.
Pool owners, and anyone with a pool on their property including tenants, have duties under the Act.
The following persons must ensure a pool barrier complies:
- The owner of the pool
- The pool operator
- The owner of the land the pool is on
- The occupier of the property the pool is on
- If the pool is available for hire, the person who is hiring the pool
- If the pool is on premises that are not subject to a tenancy (under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986) but the pool is subject to a lease or is part of premises subject to a lease, the lessee of the pool or the premises).
Pool owners must tell Council that they have a pool on their property.
Does my spa pool need barriers and inspections?
These are referred to as 'small heated pools' in legislation. Some spa pools are exempt from the Building Act fencing requirements. Fencing and inspection requirements may apply to your spa pool depending on its size.
If a spa pool's water surface area is less than 5m2, its sides are higher than 760mm above the adjacent floor or ground, and the walls of the spa pool inhibit climbing, then a lockable safety cover (with safety signage) is permitted.
A safety cover must:
- Restrict the entry of children when closed (i.e. held in place with straps fitted with lockable snap fasteners or metal padlocks.)
- Be able to withstand a reasonably foreseeable load (i.e. capable of supporting a vertical point load of 20kg.)
- Be able to be readily returned to the closed position.
- Must have signage indicating its child safety features (i.e: signage that states ‘WARNING: This spa pool cover must be kept locked except when under adult supervision’ fixed on two opposite sides of the cover.)
Otherwise, an alternative barrier and periodic inspection requirements will apply.
My pool is empty, what do I do?
If your pool is empty and you have no intention to use it, please provide Council with photos which clearly show the pool fencing and the empty pool. If the pool area is not fenced, there could be a risk of falling and fencing will need to be established.
How do pool inspections work?
We'll send you an inspection reminder when you're due for an inspection, which will include a checklist to help you with compliance. You can choose to have the inspection performed by either an Independently Qualified Pool Inspector (IQPI) or Council's Swimming Pool Officer. A fee applies for each inspection and any re-inspections, please see our fees and charges schedule for the cost of the inspection.