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 those councils should act. Some
councils consider garden ponds and other water hazards as a
'pool' to be fenced, while others do not. Only some
councils 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 council to consent to
a door opening directly into the pool area. Existing rules only
allow this where your council is satisfied that to do otherwise is
impossible or unreasonable – leaving inconsistent results
with different councils and leaving 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
All pools must be inspected by your council every five years.
This ensures all areas of the country are regularly inspecting pool
fencing, and that each council is working with the same standards
and time frames.
Access to portable pools must be restricted if they contain more
than 30 centimetres of water (reduced from the current 40
Spas do not need to be fenced off if they are child resistant
(e.g. have locked lids) and will not need regular inspection from
your council. This will mean spa owners will not longer need to
apply for a costly exemption if their spa as a full lockable
child-resistant lid and they do not want a fence.
Rules around house doors opening directly into the pool area are
to be relaxed. Doors must still be self-closing and be fitted with
an adequate locking device, but the proposed changes should allow
more flexibility where the house is intended to form part of the
Obligations to be placed on retailers to inform customers who
purchase swimming pools and spa pools of their obligations
Your council can inspect properties where it believes pools
(including spa pools) may be non-compliant and issue warning and
What do the proposed changes mean for you?
For most pool owners – not a lot. Existing fences that
meet the current rules will still meet the new proposed rules.
Regular 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 than ever will need to be
adequately fenced. Portable pool owners will need to ensure that
they comply with the proposed changes, as councils will be able to
issue infringement notices if they do not.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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