Backyard swimming pools are considered a source of enjoyment, but if the enclosure that surrounds the pool is improperly secured, a private swimming pool can become a hazard. In an effort to prevent small children from inadvertently wandering into a pool, Texas' residential pool laws require you to fence off the pool area with a suitable barrier.
Texas homeowners must construct 4-foot-high barriers around their private swimming pools to help prevent accidental drownings by limiting unsupervised access to the pool.
Pool Must Be Enclosed by a Barrier
Texas homeowners who have private residential swimming pools must construct a minimum 4-foot-high barrier around the pool. The barrier cannot be made of chain-link fencing or have any gaps or openings greater than 4 inches wide. Pool gates must self-close and self-latch, and be capable of being locked by a padlock, a combination lock, a built-in keypad or a key card. Latches should be situated in the upper one-quarter of the gate on the inside to prevent children from opening the barrier easily. These safety measures are designed to prevent unsupervised access to the pool.
Alarm and Other Safety Systems
Where the wall of the house serves as a boundary, you must install an alarm on the doors and windows that open onto the pool area. The alarm should sound whenever anyone enters the pool. Texas law requires you to install the alarm operation bypass feature high enough on the wall that it cannot be reached by children. If you have an above-ground pool, the steps or ladders must be capable of being locked, secured or removed when the pool is not in use.
Local Governments Have Their Own Codes
Each county and city has the power to set swimming pool codes that are more restrictive than state laws. For example, most counties have strict water clarity requirements to prevent the water from becoming stagnant or unsanitary, as well as rules regarding the ongoing repair and maintenance of the pool and its barrier. Some homeowners associations (HOAs) also impose regulations for swimming pool safety. If your development has an HOA, be sure to check its rules for swimming pools.
Penalties for Violations
Because of the potential for drowning, homeowners must meet local swimming pool codes or face heavy fines. The exact amount of the fine depends on the violation, but it can be between $200 and $1,000 for each day the violation exists. Under the Texas Local Government Code, neighborhood protection officials have the power to repair a defective swimming pool barrier and charge the cost, including interest and added fees, to the homeowner. To recover these costs, the municipality can place a lien on the home, which is extinguished only when the expenses are paid in full.