Pool and spa 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 where a swimming pool or spa is located to register their pool or spa with the relevant council.
Owners are also required to have their safety barriers inspected and to lodge a certificate of barrier compliance with their council. If a safety barrier is not compliant, it is the owner’s responsibility to make the barrier compliant.
The new laws apply to swimming pools and spas that are capable of holding more than 300mm (30cm) of water. This includes permanent pools, above ground pools, indoor pools, hot tubs, bathing or wading pools and some relocatable pools.
Relocatable pools that do not consist of multiple components and do not require any assembly are not subject to the barrier requirements. An example of such a product is a small inflatable pool that requires no assembly other than inflation.
Once your swimming pool or spa has been registered, 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
You can search for a registered building practitioner authorised to carry out inspections and certification using the Find a practitioner tool.
Certificate of barrier compliance
If the inspector determines that your safety barrier complies with the applicable barrier standard, they will issue a certificate of barrier compliance. As the owner of the land with the pool or spa, you then need to lodge the 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 the certificate, they will send you a written notice, which confirms:
- the date the certificate was lodged
- the date by which the next certificate is required to be lodged, which is 4 years after the previous certificate.
You will need to pay a fee to the council when you lodge the certificate.
Deadlines for inspection and lodgement of certificate of barrier compliance
Pools and spas constructed before 1 June 2020
|Pool/spa construction date||Compliance certificate must be lodged by|
|On or before 30 June 1994||1 June 2021|
|From 1 July 1994 until 30 April 2010||1 June 2022|
|From 1 May 2010 until 31 May 2020||1 June 2023|
You are required to lodge a certificate of barrier compliance every 4 years. Check with your council for exact dates.
Pools and spas constructed on or after 1 June 2020
Your first certificate of barrier compliance will be due within 30 days of occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection. This certificate must accompany your application for registration.
Your next certificate of compliance is due 4 years after registration. Check with your council for exact dates.
If the inspector determines that your safety barrier is not compliant, they can either:
- immediately issue a certificate of barrier non-compliance; or
- issue you a written notice specifying:
- the matters which must be addressed to bring the pool barrier into compliance;
- the period in which the barrier must be made compliant (within a maximum of 60 days); and
- the date and time they intend to reinspect the barrier.
After re-inspection, if the inspector determines that the pool barrier is compliant, they will issue a certificate of barrier compliance, which you must then lodge with council.
If the barrier remains non-compliant, but the inspector is satisfied that progress has been made towards bringing the barrier into compliance, they may allow you an additional 7 days to rectify the barrier. Otherwise they will issue a certificate of barrier non-compliance.
If an inspector issues a certificate of barrier non-compliance, they will lodge it with the relevant council and provide you with a copy. The council will notify you and you will have to pay a fee by the due date specified in the notice.
What happens next
When the council receives the certificate of barrier non-compliance, the municipal building surveyor will issue either:
- a barrier improvement notice, or
- a notice or order under the Building Act 1993 (if the municipal building surveyor considers that this is 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. A barrier improvement notice is usually issued 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
|Type of fee or penalty|| Amount |
|Fee for lodging a certificate of barrier compliance with council||$20.44*^|
|Fee for lodging a certificate of barrier non-compliance with council||$385.06*^|
|Failure to lodge certificate of barrier compliance by date specified||up to $1,652.20^|
|Failure to lodge certificate of barrier non-compliance by date specified||up to $1,652.20^|
|Failure to comply with barrier improvement notice by date specified||up to $1,652.20^|
* Fees are set by the relevant council and will not exceed this amount. Please check the council's website for the fee that applies.
^ Fee and penalty units are indexed and increase by a small amount on 1 July each year, in accordance with the Monetary Units Act 2004. From 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, one fee unit is $14.81. The amount is rounded up 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. We recommend obtaining quotes for this work from at least two practitioners before you proceed with the inspection.
Owners of pools or spas with barriers that require multiple inspections before being certified as compliant will likely face higher costs than those whose barrier is certified as compliant after the first inspection.
Frequently asked questions
Certificates of pool and spa compliance
A certificate of barrier compliance is only valid for 30 days after it is issued. It must be lodged with the relevant council within this period.
If the certificate is not lodged within the 30 days, a new inspection must be carried out and a new certificate issued and lodged with the relevant council.
It is an offence to not 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.
You should contact the council or check their website about their process for lodging a certificate of barrier compliance.
A certificate of barrier non-compliance can be issued by a pool and spa inspector if they determine that the barrier is not compliant.
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, is able to 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 is unable to be completely closed
- any part of the barrier is less than 1 metre in height, measured above ground level from the approach side.
The inspector will lodge the certificate with the relevant council and provide you with a copy.
Yes – after the inspector lodges the certificate of barrier non-compliance with the council, the council will notify you of the fee and the due date for payment (not less than 28 days). The maximum fee that can be charged is $385.10. Please check the 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.
Barrier improvement notices
The barrier improvement notice will specify a date by which you must rectify the barrier and lodge the certificate of barrier compliance with your council.
This means that you will need to have the barrier re-inspected before the specified date.
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 if the certificate of barrier compliance is not lodged as required.
In addition, the municipal building surveyor may then issue other notices or orders under the Building Act 1993.
Alterations to a registered pool or spa
After registering your pool or spa, if building work is 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 will 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 relevant building surveyor will require the work to be brought into compliance.
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, in accordance with the Monetary Units Act 2004. From 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, one penalty unit is $165.20.
After receiving the certificate following alterations, the council will register the applicable barrier standard and give you a notice in writing of the following:
- that they have received the certificate
- the date by which the next certificate must be lodged
- confirmation that the applicable barrier standard has been updated (if applicable) and details of the barrier standard that now applies.