Understanding pool barrier laws
Because of the number of drownings and near-drownings in Arizona, most of which involve small children, the State of Arizona and most counties and cities within the state have enacted swimming pool barrier laws. Generally, these laws require that all affected swimming pools (or certain other contained bodies of water) be protected by an enclosure surrounding the pool area, or by another barrier, that meets specific requirements.
Pool barrier laws require that a swimming pool be completely enclosed by a fence to restrict access to the swimming pool from adjoining property. These laws also require that certain barriers be installed to restrict easy access from the home to the swimming pool. Pool barrier laws contain specific requirements regarding the height and type of fences, gates and doors from the home leading directly to the swimming pool and regarding windows that face the swimming pool. Arizona REALTORS® encourages home buyers to be aware of pool barrier laws prior to purchasing a home with an existing pool, erecting pool barriers, altering, repairing or replacing pool barriers and building a pool. Here are a few commonly asked questions regarding swimming pool barrier laws.
I’m ready to make an offer on a house with a pool. What information should I receive?
Arizona REALTORS® Residential Resale Real Estate Purchase Contract, used in most resale home transactions, includes a “Notice to Buyer of Swimming Pool Barrier Regulations,” in which the buyer and seller acknowledge the existence of state laws as well as possible county and municipal laws, and the buyer agrees to investigate and comply with these laws. The seller is required by law to give the buyer a copy of the pool safety notice from the Arizona Department of Health Services. The contract also requires the buyer be given a Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement, which discloses any known code violations on the property.
The house I want to buy has a fence around the pool, but it doesn’t meet code. Who is responsible for bringing it up to code and how long do we have?
The Arizona REALTORS® Purchase Contract states: “During the Inspection Period, Buyer agrees to investigate all applicable state, county, and municipal swimming pool barrier regulations and agrees to comply with and pay all costs of compliance with said regulations prior to occupying the Premises, unless otherwise agreed in writing.” Check city and county ordinances for their specific requirements.
We have an above-ground pool in our backyard, so we don’t have to worry about pool barrier laws, do we?
Above-ground pools are covered by the same state legal requirements for an enclosure around the pool. The pool must be at least four feet high with a wall that is not climbable and steps or ladders that are locking or removable. Again, check city or county ordinances for different requirements.
Michelle Lind is chief executive officer for the Arizona Association of REALTORS®.