Buying or Renting a Home with a Pool or Spa?

If you are renting or buying a property with a pool or spa, it is important that you check the pool fencing. This is particularly important if you have young children, or will be having young children over to visit.

Pool fencing plays a vital role in childhood drowning prevention. A fully functional fence with a self-closing self-latching gate, along with vigilant adult supervision is the best way to prevent childhood drowning in backyard pools. Any property that you are looking to rent or buy that has a pool or spa, is legally required to have a pool fence in all States and Territories of Australia. Spas should have a securely fitted cover. However, there is more involved than just ensuring that there is a fence around the pool or spa on the property.

The pool fence can be an area that is overlooked when undertaking a home inspection, as people may believe that they do not have the expertise to be able to spot any issues or problems with the pool fence or gate. Over time, pool fences and gates will suffer from wear and tear which can alter the fence’s stability and performance, and ultimately, it’s drowning prevention effectiveness. There are a few major safety components which you can easily check yourself when next inspecting a house with a pool.


The fence acts as a barrier between a pool or spa and a child, helping to prevent unintended access to the water. Therefore it is extremely important that the fence is secure and in good working order. When determining if the fence is secure, consider the following:

  • Are all of the fence panels in place and securely attached?
  • Are there any gaps or holes in the fencing?
  • Are there any rusted, loose or missing screws in the fencing?
  • Is there anything close to the fence which could assist a child to climb? Particularly check pots, furniture and plants.
  • Has the land around the pool moved, causing cracks in the cement?


The gate of a pool fence is crucial in restricting a child’s access to the pool or spa. The pool gate:

  • Latch must be more than 1.5 metres from the ground.
  • Must self close and self latch from any open position, and;
  • Must open outwards from the pool.

To check if a pool gate is operating properly, ensure that:

  • The gate swings back to the closed position after it has been opened.
  • The gate latches and stays closed after it returns to the closed position.
  • The gate is secure and once it is latched it cannot be pulled open or opened by standing/pushing down on the gate.


Organise a reputable pool company to check if your spa or pool has any of these filters or outlet devices:

  • An open potty-shaped skimmer box that children or adults can sit on
  • Outlets or filters that are open and can trap hair or body parts
  • Single drainage outlets at the bottom of the pool or spa, rather than on the sides
  • Outlet and filter covers that can easily come off and give access to filters or outlets that can trap hair or body parts or cause serious internal injuries.

If the pool gate does not swing back to the closed position, does not latch or stay closed, or can be pulled open once latched, then the gate is not in proper working order and needs to be repaired or replaced.

Any missing fence panels, or any holes and gaps in the fence can provide children with a way to gain access to the pool or spa. If there are any rusted or missing screws, the stability of the fence may be weakened.

A full home pool safety checklist can be downloaded from

Alternatively, you can get your real estate agent to ask the owner of the house to provide a current safety certificate, stating that their pool fence complies with the relevant standards in their state. If they do not have a current certificate, you may wish to engage an inspector to assess the pool fence before you rent or purchase the property.

While pool fencing plays an important role in the prevention of childhood drowning, it should never be relied upon on its own to keep children from accessing a pool or spa. It is important to remember that there is no substitution for active adult supervision.

For further information on childhood drowning prevention and pool fencing regulations in your area, contact your local Kidsafe office via Otherwise you can do your bit to help eliminate child drowning this summer by completing this checklist online