Pool Barrier Inspections and Compliance

On 1 December 2019, new laws to improve swimming pool and spa safety came into effect in Victoria.

It is now mandatory for owners of land with a swimming pool or spa to register their pool or spa with the relevant council.Owners must also have their safety barriers inspected and lodge a certificate of barrier compliance with their local council. If a safety barrier is not compliant, it is the owner’s responsibility to make the barrier compliant.

The new laws apply to pools and spas that are capable of holding water with a depth of more than 300mm or 30cm of water. These laws apply to:

  • Permanent pools
  • Above-ground pools
  • Indoor pools
  • Hot tubs
  • Bathing or wading pools
  • Some re-locatable pools

Re-locatable pools that do not consist of multiple components and do not require any assembly are not subject to these barrier requirements. An example of such a product is a small inflatable pool that requires no assembly other than inflation.

There are currently 3 sets of requirements for pool or spa barriers in Victoria, based on the construction date of your pool or spa:

  • Before 8 April 1991
  • Between 8 April 1991 – 30 April 2010, and;
  • After 30 April 2010

Below are some essential points that help to explain the current pool barrier requirements. Please note that the information below is not exhaustive and only serves as a guide:

Pool Barrier Inspections and Compliance

Once you have registered your swimming pool or spa, you need to arrange an inspection of the safety barrier to determine if the barrier is compliant with the applicable barrier standard.

An inspection of your pool or spa barrier can only be carried out by:

  • A registered building surveyor
  • A registered building inspector
  • A municipal building surveyor
  • AVI Glass Fencing

Pool Barrier Inspections and Compliance

All swimming pools and spas capable of containing water with a depth of more than 300mm or 30cm must have a compliant safety barrier to restrict young children (under the age of five) from accessing the pool area. You’ll need barriers for:

  • In-ground pools and spas
  • Above-ground pools and spas, including re-locatable and inflatable pools that are capable of holding a depth of water more than 300mm or 30cm, which require assembly on site
  • Indoor pools and spas
  • Bathing and wading pools capable of containing water with a depth of more than 300mm or 30cm

You do not need barriers for:

  • Inflatable swimming pools (typically toddler or wading pools) that cannot contain a water depth greater than 300mm or 30cm
  • Small inflatable pools that do not consist of multiple components and do not require any assembly are exempt. An example of such a product is a small inflatable pool that requires no assembly other than inflation
  • Birdbaths
  • Fountains
  • Water supply or storage tanks
  • Fish ponds
  • Dams
  • Baths used for personal hygiene and emptied after each use
  • Spas inside a building (e.g. in a bathroom) used for personal hygiene and emptied after each use
  • Pools or spas that cannot contain a water depth of more than 300mm or 30 cm

Certificate of Barrier Compliance

If the inspector determines that your safety barrier complies with the applicable barrier standard, they issue a certificate of barrier compliance. As the owner of the land containing the pool or spa, you need to lodge this certificate with your council. You must do this within 30 days of receiving the certificate. Contact your council for more information. When the council receives your certificate, they  send you a written notice, which confirms:

  • The lodgement date for the certificate
  • The lodgement date for the next certificate  – this is 4 years after the previous certificate

Please bear in mind that you need to pay a fee to the council when you lodge the certificate.

What Happens Next?

When the council receives the certificate of barrier non-compliance, the municipal building surveyor issues either:

  • A barrier improvement notice, or
  • A notice or order under the Building Act 1993 (if the municipal building surveyor considers it appropriate, depending on the nature of the non-compliance).

Barrier Improvement Notices

A barrier improvement notice may be issued by a municipal building surveyor after the council receives a certificate of barrier non-compliance. Building surveyors or inspectors usually issue these certificates for minor non-compliance matters. The notice specifies what you must fix to make the barrier compliant, as well as the period that you must take this action within.

Fees and Penalties

Fee Type Amount (AUD)
Fee for lodging a certificate of barrier compliance with council $20.44*^
Fee for lodging a certificate of barrier non-compliance with the council $385.06*^
Failure to lodge a certificate of barrier compliance by the date specified up to $1,652.20^
Failure to lodge a certificate of barrier non-compliance by the date specified up to $1,652.20^

* The relevant council set the Fees, which do not exceed this amount. Please check your local council’s website for the fee that applies.

^ All fee and penalty units are indexed and increase by a small amount on 1 July each year, per the Monetary Units Act 2004. From 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, one fee unit is $14.81. All amounts are rounded off to the nearest 10 cents. From 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, one penalty unit is $165.22.

There is no set fee for a safety barrier inspection.

Owners of pools or spas with barriers that require multiple inspections before being certified as compliant likely face higher costs than those that receive certification after the first inspection.

Pool Barrier Inspections and Compliance If You Already Have a Pool or Spa

As a pool or spa owner, you must maintain the operation and integrity of your swimming pool or spa barrier to prevent access to the pool or spa.

The following checklists help you to assess the safety of your barrier. These checklists are date-specific. They cover the relevant barrier standards according to the installation date of your pool or spa:

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a certificate of barrier compliance valid?

A certificate of Pool Barrier Inspections and Compliance is only valid for 30 days after issuance. You must lodge it with the relevant council within this period.

If you do not lodge the certificate within the 30 days, you must undergo a new inspection. The inspector issues a new certificate which you must lodge anew with the relevant council.

What happens if I don’t lodge a certificate of barrier compliance?

It is an offence not to lodge a certificate of barrier compliance.

If you don’t lodge a certificate of pool and spa barrier compliance by the due date, you may face an on-the-spot fine of approximately $330 and a penalty of up to $1,652.20.

How do I lodge the certificate of barrier compliance with my council?

You should contact your local council or check their website about their process for lodging a certificate of barrier compliance.

What is a certificate of barrier non-compliance?

Pool and spa inspectors can issue a certificate of barrier non-compliance if they determine that the barrier is not compliant.

When is a certificate of barrier non-compliance issued immediately?

An inspector must immediately issue a certificate of barrier non-compliance if:

  • The barrier is not capable of being made compliant, or the owner is unlikely to bring the barrier into compliance with the applicable barrier standard within 60 days
  • The non-compliance of the barrier poses a significant and immediate risk to life or safety
  • The barrier is non-compliant in any of the following ways:
  • A door or gate, when closed, can be opened by a person who is unable to reach the opening mechanism for that door or gate
  • A door or gate forming part of the barrier cannot be completely closed
  • Any part of the barrier is less than 1 metre in height, measured above the ground level from the approach side.
Is there a fee payable if a certificate of barrier non-compliance is lodged?

Yes. After the inspector lodges the certificate of barrier non-compliance with the council, the council notifies you of the fee and the due date for payment (not less than 28 days).

The maximum fee is $385.10. Please check your local council’s website for the applicable fee in your municipality.

If you do not pay the fee by the due date, you may face an on-the-spot fine of approximately $330 and a penalty of up to $1,652.20.

Who lodges the certificate of barrier non-compliance?

The inspector lodges the certificate with the relevant council and provides you with a copy.

How long do I have to comply with the barrier improvement notice?

The barrier improvement notice specifies a date by which you must rectify the barrier and lodge the certificate of barrier compliance with your local council.

This requirement means that you need to have the barrier re-inspected before the specified date.

What happens if I don’t comply with the barrier improvement notice within the specified period?

If you do not comply with the barrier improvement notice within the time specified, you may face an on-the-spot fine of approximately $330 and a penalty of up to $1,652.20.

Also, the municipal building surveyor may then issue other notices or orders under the Building Act 1993.

What happens if I make alterations/changes to a pool barrier after I’ve registered my pool or spa?

After registering your pool or spa, if there is building work carried out on the barrier that requires a building permit, the relevant building surveyor must inspect the barrier and determine if it complies with the applicable barrier standard.

If the relevant building surveyor determines that the barrier complies with the applicable barrier standard, they issue a certificate of barrier compliance and provide the certificate to you. You must then lodge the certificate with your council within 14 days.

If the barrier does not comply with the applicable barrier standard, the building surveyor notifies you to bring it up to standard.

What happens if I don’t lodge a certificate of barrier compliance after an alteration or change?

If you fail to lodge a certificate of barrier compliance within 14 days of receiving the certificate, you may face an on-the-spot fine of approximately $330 and a penalty of up to $1,652.20.

Penalty units are indexed and increase on 1 July each year, per the Monetary Units Act 2004. From 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, one penalty unit is $165.20.

What happens after I lodge the certificate with the council following alterations or changes?

After receiving the certificate following alterations or changes, your local council registers the applicable barrier standard and give you notice in writing of the following:

  • That they have received the certificate
  • The date of lodgement of the next certificate
  • Confirmation of the update of the applicable barrier standard (if applicable) and the details of the barrier standard that now applies