Tenant or landlord – who’s responsible for pools?
Backyard pools are getting a workout across the Gold Coast as temperatures soar this summer, and as a result, our office at PRDnationwide Burleigh Heads has been fielding a lot of enquiries about pool safety and maintenance responsibility when it comes to rental properties.
So who’s responsible for what when it comes to pools? There are some grey areas in the legislation so it’s important that both tenants and landlords take the time to consider what’s in the tenancy agreement and make changes they think necessary.
Following is a snapshot of what’s generally accepted as the allocation of responsibility when it comes to pools:
What the landlord is responsible for:
The landlord must arrange for the pool to be inspected by an accredited and licensed pool safety inspector and issued with a pool safety certificate. This certificate must be included with the tenancy agreement. If the certificate is not included the landlord is in breach of their legal obligations. Pool safety certificates for non-shared pools (backyard pools) are valid for 2 years from date of issue.
The landlord must ensure that the pool is fenced and gated to the standard required by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission and that trees, other vegetation or fixed facilities like bricked-in barbeques cannot be used by children to climb over the fence. The landlord must also ensure any damage to the pool fence or gate is fixed immediately.
If the landlord expects the tenant to undertake specific pool maintenance tasks, these should be outlined in the tenancy agreement with specific instructions as to how these tasks should be carried out. The landlord should also supply necessary equipment to maintain the pool such as pumps, vacuums, chlorinators and scoops. The landlord is responsible for servicing the pump and other installed equipment such as heaters.
The landlord is also responsible for structural repairs to the pool that are the result of age or poor manufacture/ installation. Pool pumps and chlorinators that require replacement due to age and normal wear and tear are also the responsibility of the landlord.
The pool water’s pH levels should be properly balanced at the beginning of each tenancy and this also is the responsibility of the landlord.
What the tenant is responsible for:
Generally for non-shared pools (backyard pools as opposed to a pool in an apartment complex) the tenant is responsible for everyday cleaning and maintenance of the pool. This includes cleaning the filter, removing leaves and ensuring chlorine and/or salt levels are adequate to maintain the water at a safe and clean pH level.
The tenant is usually responsible for purchasing and applying pool chemicals unless otherwise stated on the tenancy agreement.
If the pool turns green due to unbalanced pH levels, it’s the responsibility of the tenant to fix the problem which can be expensive so we advise tenants not to let it get to this stage. If the tenant has advised the landlord that the pump is broken and the landlord is slow to act, then the landlord is responsible should the water turn green.
Tenants must also always ensure that the pool fence is NEVER left propped open for any length of time for any reason. Propping a fence open may be convenient at the time but imagine how you’d feel if it led to the death of a small child. Nothing is worth that. Keep the pool gate securely closed at all times.
Tenants should always ensure the condition of the pool is noted in the entry condition report to reduce the chance of dispute down the track.
What the tenant is NOT responsible for:
A landlord cannot demand that a tenant enter into a contract with a pool maintenance contractor or demand they use a particular contractor. If both parties agree to use a contractor, the details of the arrangement, including who pays, must be outlined in the tenancy agreement.
For more details on the obligations of both tenants and landlords concerning backyard pools please visit the Queensland Building and Construction Commission website.