It’s been a long hot summer and if you are thinking of improving the appeal of your rental by installing a pool, here’s what you need to know.
Summer may officially be over, but autumn and winter are traditionally times when property owners look to installing pools and spas in the lead up to warm spring days that quickly segue into scorching summer heatwaves.
With increasingly long hot summers set to be the norm in the years ahead, landlords may look to improve the appeal of their rental by installing a pool or spa. While there is a lot to think about (planning and building permission, cost, installation and tenant disruption, on-going maintenance responsibilities and costs, tax implications for capital improvements and appropriate rent setting), ensuring that safety standards are met is an absolute necessity.
Any private pool or spa at your rental has to have appropriate safety barriers according to the building laws enforced by local government and the residential tenancy laws in your state/territory.
Remember: if you’re renting out a property with a pool, in most jurisdictions you are required to provide a valid swimming pool certification of compliance as part of your tenancy agreement.
Pools and spas
As a guide, a private swimming pool is one that is associated with a dwelling and which has the capacity to contain water that is more than 300mm deep. This includes below-ground pools and also spa-pools such as jacuzzis and outdoor hot tubs, above-ground pools and even some inflatable paddling pools.
While different states have different regulations when it comes to pool fencing, as a rule the law requires that private swimming pools are secured by isolation fencing and have correct locking mechanisms on gates.
Check with the local council to make sure your pool fence meets regulations which usually include specific dimensions for height and gap widths, self-closing gates opening away from the pool and no home doors and windows opening into the pool enclosure.
It is a common misconception that fencing is not required if the pool is not a permanent feature. Portable pools and spas (above-ground or inflatable), despite being able to be emptied and packed away, are expected to have the same fencing as a permanent pool or spa.
As the property owner, you are responsible for obtaining a building permit prior to installing, constructing or altering private swimming pool barriers, including windows, doors and gates that provide access to the pool area.
Both landlord and tenant usually have responsibility for ensuring that any fence or barrier restricting access to a private swimming pool is maintained and operating effectively. However, it is ultimately the landlord who is responsible for ensuring the legal requirements relating to barriers for any pools/spas provided at the rental premises are complied with. Failing to do so can not only put the lives of young children at risk, but result in substantial fines.
Your tenancy agreement should detail your tenant’s responsibilities when it comes to the pool/spa, such as needing to report any issues with the pool immediately (to avoid argy-bargy about maintenance of the pool itself, set this out in the agreement too).
Repairs to a pool barrier are generally considered to be urgent and you must respond to maintenance requests quickly. You should also carry out regular maintenance of the pool safety barriers.
It is also wise to include a clause in the tenancy agreement that requires your tenant to obtain your written permission to erect any pool over 300mm and that if approved they would be required to provide regulation fencing. However, even with such a clause, many tenants do not think this applies to portable pools. The fact is, if the portable pool or outdoor spa (even if it has a lockable lid) can hold water deeper than 30cm, it is subject to fencing requirements.
During property inspections, check that the pool fencing, gates, latches and posts are operating as they should. Also check for any objects that could be climbed on, such as garden furniture, are being kept away from the pool and spa fences, gates and latches. If an unfenced portable pool is found on-site, request that it be emptied immediately.
Landlords should ensure that they have adequate insurance for their rental property, including liability cover.
Looking to protect your rental with landlord insurance? Check out our range of policies and contact 1800 661 662 to chat about cover options.
*While we have taken care to ensure the information above is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances and legislation after the displayed date may impact the accuracy of this article. If you need us we are there, contact 1800 961 017 if you have any questions.