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Pool safety rules get the sitcom solution

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pool safetyApartment owners in blocks with swimming pools have been thrown a lifeline. New swimming pool safety regulations, due to come in later this month, remove the proposed ban on selling or letting flats in strata buildings that have no pool safety certificates.

And, in a bureaucratic side-step worthy of sitcoms like Yes Minister and The Thick of It (left), free-standing homes  that don’t have a certificate of compliance, can now be sold with a certificate of non-compliance.

“If they can’t give us f-ing certificates of compliance” you can hear Malcolm Tucker say, “Tell them to give us certificates of non-f-ing-compliance.  All we want is certificates.”

Every April for the past three years, the government has delayed implementing swimming pool safety regulations aimed at making sure domestic pools were child-safe. Under the proposed rules, property owners wouldn’t have been able to sell or rent without a pool safety certificate,

Without them, leases would have been invalid and potential purchasers would have had 14 days to renege on sales contracts. But every year, as the deadline approached, it became apparent that there simply weren’t enough official certifiers to go round.

Sellers and landlords were waiting months before they could even get their pools checked, let alone approved or fixed. Meanwhile apartment landlords would have been hostage to strata committees that didn’t want to spend money on safety upgrades.

Year after year home owners were given another 12 months to get their pools checked and get them certified.  And every year it became more apparent that it just wasn’t going to happen.

The whole rental business – especially in apartments – would have ground to a sudden halt as landlords struggled to get their owners corporations  to spend money on upgrades. House sales too would have suffered as purchasers threatened to invoke the clause that allowed them to pull out within 14 days if the pool wasn’t certified.

And so we get the “sitcom solution”. Make apartment blocks exempt and create a new “certificate of non-compliance” for houses that are up for sale but don’t have time to get an official certification.

To be fair, this is not a free kick for either property sellers or landlords.  Non-strata sellers still have to register their pools and supply certification.  If it’s a certificate of non-compliance, then the purchaser has 90 days in which to get the pool checked and make it child-safe.

Landlords of free-standing homes with pools in the backyard, can’t lease them without safety certification attached to the lease.  Strata schemes larger than two lots are supposedly covered by mandatory three-yearly inspections.

But what about two-unit strata schemes which are not exempt?  There will surely be fun and games if one of the owners in a duplex doesn’t want to sell or rent and doesn’t want a fence around their pool.  You could write a sitcom about it.

Here’s a link to the  Fair Trading fact sheet and you can follow this up on the Forum.

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