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By Siobhan Cheshire

Consumer Protection and the Building Commission have issued a joint warning to landlords and tenants insisting pool fences and safety barriers must be properly maintained to keep children safe this summer.

The reminder follows a recentCoroners Courthearing that found delays in repairing a self-closing pool security door at a rental property contributed to the drowning of a young child.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll said tenants who had concerns about pool safety barriers should notify their landlord or property manager, preferably in writing.

“If the safety concern is likely to expose a person to the risk of injury then an urgent repair is required,” Ms Driscoll said.

“Under the Residential Tenancies Act, an urgent repair to avoid exposing a person to the risk of injury must be organised within 48 hours. If the tenant cannot contact the landlord or property manager, or they fail to organise repairs within 48 hours, the tenant has the right to authorise urgent repairs and have the cost of any reasonable expenses reimbursed by the landlord.

“Tenants are also encouraged to contact their local government authority if they experience delays in having landlords or property managers attend to swimming pool safety barrier repairs. Councils can inspect a pool safety barrier and order repairs to be carried out.

“The priority here is that pool safety is of the utmost importance and there cannot be any delay in carrying out urgent repairs to pool safety barriers, including fencing, gates, windows or sliding doors – otherwise the lives of young children are being put at great risk.”

Building Commissioner Peter Gow reminded pool owners and anyone thinking about installing a pool to ensure that compliant pool safety barriers were in place.

“Pool safety is important all year round, and even more so during the summer months when splashing in the pool is a big temptation for the kids,” he said.

“I urge pool owners to be vigilant about maintaining pool safety barriers to stop young children entering the pool area when not supervised by an adult.

“The law in WA places responsibility on the owner and occupier to ensure a compliant barrier is provided around swimming pools at all times,” he continued.

“The law applies to new and existing swimming or spa pools, but not spa baths, and also to portable pools that have a capacity to contain water that is more than 300mm deep. Parents and carers, however, should be aware that portable wading pools containing less than 300mm of water are still a constant danger to young children.

“A building permit is required for the installation of swimming or spa pools, including their associated safety barriers. A building permit may also be required to modify an existing safety barrier.”

For more information on Pool Safety Barrier Laws refer to the legislation specific to your state.

Source : Real Estate Bulletin (4 December 2013)

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