News for June 2009
Pool Barrier Laws - Not Just for Homes with Children
By Diane Cole, AAR Communications Director
as seen in the Arizona Republic, June 2002
Is a wall around the yard all I need to satisfy pool barrier laws? Do I need a fence around the pool as well? Can I just keep the gate and sliding door locked? How well do you know pool barrier laws?
In 1991, Arizona passed the pool barrier law, Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 33-1681, requiring an enclosure surrounding the pool area. The law allows cities and counties to adopt their own ordinances, “…provided that the ordinance is equal to or more stringent than the provisions of this article.” Ordinances vary widely between cities and counties; homeowners and buyers need to research the laws carefully to make sure their home is in compliance.
According to Greg Conrad, City of Phoenix Development Services Supervisor, most violations are caused by not using or not maintaining barriers properly. Tickets for code infractions in Phoenix cost $50-$2500; failure to comply can result in criminal action with six-month jail sentence and fine. In Tucson, the most common violation is not having self-closing, self-latching gates or the gates don’t work properly.
To help you gain a basic understanding of Arizona’s pool barrier laws, this column will answer some of the most common questions.
- What is a pool barrier?
Generally, under state law, a fence or wall separating the pool from the house or a motorized pool cover requiring a key switch to operate are considered pool barriers. Fences or walls must be at least five feet high with openings no more than four inches wide. If doors or windows give direct access to the pool, doors must have self-latching devices and windows must not open more than four inches. City and county ordinances may be different.
- Who is required to have a pool barrier?
A.R.S. §36-1681 requires that all residential swimming pools are enclosed by a barrier. Families with children under six must also have a barrier blocking access to the pool from the house. Homes where all residents are six years of age or older and homes with pools built prior to the effective date of the law are exempt under state law, but be aware that some city and county ordinances differ. Some require homes built before the effective date be brought to code if remodeled or sold, regardless of the age of children residing in the home.
- I’m ready to make an offer on a house with a pool. What information should I receive?
The Arizona Association of REALTORS® (AAR) Residential Resale 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 AAR Purchase Contract states: “During the Inspection Period, Buyer agrees to investigate all applicable state, county, and municipal swimming pool barrier regulations and, unless reasonably disapproved within the Inspection Period, agrees to comply with and pay all costs of compliance with said regulations prior to possession of the Premises.” 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.
- Where can I find pool barrier information?
- Start with your city and county. A list of the departments overseeing pool barrier enforcement and additional information can be found on the AAR website.
- Some cities and counties have ordinances online, www.az.gov.
- Read the state law online, www.azleg.state.az.us/ars/36/01681.htm.
- Other resources:
- Consumer Product Safety Commission, www.cpsc.gov
- “Urban Survival - Life Safety Planning” - brochure from the Phoenix Fire Department, in English and Spanish; call 602/256-3179
Reprinted with permission from the Arizona Association of REALTORS.
Edited: June 29th, 2009