Buying a house with a spa pool? Check it carefully!Date: 13, February, 2013 | Category: Property & Real Estate
Source: Glaister Property Transfer Service newsletter Feb 2013
If you are buying or selling a house in Auckland with a spa pool you should be aware of changing requirements regarding the fencing of spa pools.
It has not been widely publicised, but until there is new legislation passed on the subject, many thousands of spa pools in the old Auckland City (and possibly the old North Shore City) may not pass their next inspection unless they are actually fenced (if they are not contained in a fenced swimming pool area).
Pragmatically (but possibly incorrectly) the old Auckland City Council (and many other local authorities in NZ but not all previous councils in the Auckland region now making up the Auckland Council) allowed spa pools to be not fenced provided they were of a sufficient minimum height, had a lockable cover and ticked all thirteen boxes contained in an NZ Standards 8500:2006 checklist. If they met this criteria, the Council regarded such spas as compliant and signed them off accordingly without requiring an exemption (from a physical fence) application. This applied up to about November 2010.
When the wider Auckland Council took control, acting on advice, it deemed such practice to be unacceptable. Accordingly, anyone holding a spa pool compliance sign off (based on the NZ Standards unfenced but lockable cover regime) dated up to November 2010 will not be able to obtain a renewal of that compliance notice on the next scheduled inspection unless;
(a) They fence the spa pool in accordance with the legislation (which for many will be difficult or highly impractical); or
(b) Apply for an exemption which costs approximately $400, will take up to four months for the Council to process and for which success is not guaranteed; or
(c) Empty the pool
We understand that legislation is proposed which will impose a less stringent set of requirements, but such law is unlikely to be introduced before 2014 or 2015.
This only applies to spa pools, and not to swimming pools to which the strict fencing rules apply unamended.
So what does this all mean for property buyers and sellers? Whether buying or selling a property which has a spa pool, consider when the compliance notice is next up for renewal and whether it is likely to achieve that compliance notice based on the legislative and Council requirements at that time (and, if not, what would be required to make it comply). If a seller has notice from the Council regarding non-compliance, it will need to disclose this to the buyer before signing the agreement or risk breaching a specific warranty in the agreement for sale and purchase and having to pay the purchaser compensation.