A recent settlement case has served as a reminder of the importance of adequate pool fencing.
Under the Building Regulations 2012, every owner and occupier of premises with a pool containing water more than 300mm deep must ensure there is suitable fencing around the pool.
The fence can be made of any durable material but must adhere to certain requirements. For example, the fence must be a minimum of 1200mm high, must be clear of climbable objects, and must not have spaces of more than 100mm between vertical slats or poles.*
The laws are intended to prevent young children from drowning, and since 2006, it is the seller’s responsibility to ensure the pool fencing meets requirements before settlement.
In a recent settlement case, our client was selling a home with an outdoor building that contained a spa. In the contract, the seller acknowledged that the building wasn’t council approved, and the buyer agreed to accept the unapproved building.
Later, however, it was revealed that the spa was not adequately fenced. The seller had assumed that this did not need to be fixed, as the fact that the building wasn’t approved had already been disclosed.
However, it was only the building that had been disclosed, and not the inadequate spa fencing. Settlement could not occur until the fencing was made compliant.
The time taken to organise or install pool fencing could easily delay settlement. Fortunately, the settlement period in this case was an unusually long one, and the seller was able to have the fence brought up to standard before settlement date.
To avoid settlement delays or unnecessary hassle, ensure that pool fencing complies with regulation before settlement.
If you’re an agent and the seller wants to sell a property with unsuitable fencing as-is, advise the buyer to seek legal advice before signing the contract. Owning a pool with inadequate fencing may expose the buyer to the risk of fines and may make the buyer responsible for endangering children’s lives.
*See the Building Commission’s website for full details of pool fencing regulations.
Image by Colombia_Travel via Flickr.