Private Swimming Pools

Why do I have to fence my swimming pool?

Research shows that fencing reduces drowning of young children in home pools.

Drownings decreased dramatically after the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act was enacted in 1987. Before pool fencing legislation was enacted, an average of 10 young children per year drowned in residential swimming pools. This average has reduced to two young children per year. Most of the children who have drowned were under three years of age.

What is a swimming pool?

Any excavation or structure of a kind normally used for swimming, paddling, or bathing; or any product (other than an ordinary home bath) that is designed or modified to be used for swimming, wading, paddling, or bathing but does not include an artificial lake.

What pools need to be fenced?

Pools with a maximum depth of water of 400 mm or more that are filled or partly filled with water must have means of restricting access that prevents unsupervised access by a child under 5 years of age.

Does my spa pool or hot tub need to be fenced?

Small heated pools where the top surface of every wall of the pool is at all points not less than 760 mm above the adjacent floor or ground and the walls of the pool inhibit climbing. And where a cover is provided as a barrier to a small heated pool, it must restrict the entry of children when closed; and be able to withstand a reasonably foreseeable load; and be able to be readily returned to the closed position; and have signage indicating its child safety features.

What is considered to be the immediate pool area?

The land in or on which the pool is situated and so much of the surrounding area as is used for activities carried out in relation to or involving the pool.

What is considered as a small heated pool?

A heated pool (such as a spa pool or a hot tub) that has a water surface area of 5 m2 or less; and is designed for therapeutic or recreational use.

Who is responsible for pool safety?

The owner of the pool - the pool operator - the owner of the land on which the pool is situated - the occupier of the property in or on which the pool is situated.

Who is responsible for pool safety?

The owner of the pool - the pool operator - the owner of the land on which the pool is situated - the occupier of the property in or on which the pool is situated.

How often do I need to have my pool inspected?

Every territorial authority must ensure that residential pools within its jurisdiction are inspected once every 3 years to determine whether the pool has barriers that comply with the requirements. 

(a) residential pools other than small heated pools:

(b) small heated pools that have barriers that are not exempt

Who can I have inspect my pool?

Territorial authority or independently qualified pool inspector accepted and registered as qualified to carry out inspections to determine whether a pool has barriers that comply with the requirements.

Can I choose not to have the territorial authority inspect my pool?

An authorised officer is entitled, at all times during normal working hours or while building work is being carried out, to inspect any residential pool (or the immediate pool area).

Do I need a building consent to install a pool fence/barrier?

You must obtain a building consent before installing a pool barrier, other than a safety cover for a small heated pool.

Does my portable pool need a fence/barrier?

Portable pools are treated in the same way as other residential pools. They must have barriers that restrict access by young children if they are filled or partly filled with water. Portable pools with a maximum depth of water of less than 400mm are exempt.

Why are you not requiring water features to be fenced?

The act clarifies that the barrier requirements do not apply to garden ponds and other water hazards. The previous Fencing of Swimming Pools Act has been interpreted as applying to garden ponds and water hazards such as storm water retention ponds. This clarification will have little effect on the current risk of drowning in garden ponds because the current legislation is seldom enforced in relation to garden ponds.

Why require fencing of pools where no children live?

The pool barrier requirements apply regardless of whether any children are living on the property. Research shows that most homes with pools have young children among their visitors, and that young children are six times more likely to drown when they are visiting someone else’s home than when they are at their own home.

What are the changes to doors?

The act clarifies that doors must be self-closing, or be fitted with alarms that go off if the doors are not closed after adults pass through them. The current requirement is that doors must automatically close and latch, or for sliding and folding doors, have another means of restricting access.

Why not require ‘four-sided fencing?

Some submitters to the Select Committee advocated ‘four-sided fencing’, with no doors allowed as part of the pool barrier. The Select Committee carefully considered those concerns. The Building Code (which is amended by the Bill) contains specific performance requirements for ensuring that doors restrict access by unsupervised young children. Drownings where young children gained unsupervised access to a pool via a compliant door are very rare.

Further Information

Pool Safety Legislation Newsletter

MBIE has further information - Restricting access to residential pools

You can read more about the changes on the MBIE Corporate website

The Building Pools Amendment Act 2016 is available on the Legislation website

If you have questions or need guidance about your pool, please contact us at the Rangitikei District Council.