Pool safety

Using dividing fences as a pool barrier

In Queensland, dividing fences are often used as pool barriers as an efficient way to comply with pool safety laws. If you have to construct a new fence, replace, or modify an existing pool fence or barrier that you share with your neighbour, it’s important that it is compliant.

You can use the wall of a building on a common boundary as long as it’s compliant. You may need to build a separate barrier where any part of the wall does not meet the requirements of the pool safety standard.

Do I need to get development approval?

If you are replacing or modifying a boundary fence, you may need development approval. Contact your local government before commencing any building work.

Working with your neighbour

Discuss the fencing work with your neighbour before making any decisions. If you are unable to, or decide against discussing the work with your neighbour, you must give them a notice about the proposed work - Form 39 - Notice of proposed fencing work for a pool barrier, at least 14 days prior to starting any work.

Form 39 includes information about the type of fence proposed and the materials to be used.

Prescribed materials

The proposed pool barrier must be consistent with the existing fence (e.g. similar materials and colours), unless this prevents the fence from complying with the pool safety standard.

Who pays?

The pool laws in Queensland adopt a user-pays system. The pool owner must pay the full cost where the fencing work is required for a pool fence to be compliant with the pool safety laws.

If there is a pool on both sides of the dividing fence and both pool owners need to make the barrier compliant, the cost is shared equally. However, where one pool owner requires fencing work and the other pool owner doesn’t, the full cost must be paid by the pool owner requiring the work.

You can use a Form 41 - Agreement to contribute for fencing work for a pool barrier to formalise the agreement with your neighbour.

Access to neighbour’s property

If you need to enter your neighbour’s property to construct part of a pool barrier, you must get permission.

Your request for access should be reasonable and limited to the part of the adjoining land necessary to do the fencing work. If your neighbour doesn’t agree, you can make application to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) to obtain an order.

The exception to this rule is for the urgent repair of a damaged fence. It’s important that you urgently restore the dividing fence to a reasonable standard and it may not be possible to get permission from your neighbour.

Changing the style

You may paint or change the appearance of your side of the fence, as long as you don’t materially alter or damage the fence. To change the character of an existing fence, you must get permission from your neighbour. In the case where you neighbour won’t give consent, you can contact QCAT to obtain an order.

Disagreements

If you and your neighbour are unable to come to an agreement regarding the proposed fencing work or financial contributions, try and resolve the issue by taking the matter to QCAT.
You can only take further action through QCAT if:

  • a Form 39 has been given to your neighbour; and
  • it is within 2 months from the date you issued them with the form.

Other types of pool fences/barriers

Spas -

A spa needs to be fully compliant with the standard. A lockable lid is not sufficient.

Temporary fencing -

If you need to remove a pool fence for any reason, you must construct a temporary one in its place. It should comply with the standard and have at least one gate.

You can install a temporary fence for up to three months, provided it’s been inspected and approved by a building certifier.

For further time extensions, contact the certifier to organise another inspection and obtain written permission.

Special purpose-built fence (e.g. to keep a dog )

If your pool fence has a dual function and provides an enclosure for your dog as well as the pool, it must comply with the requirements for a special purpose fence. This means that it must also prevent a child from reaching into the enclosure.