Obsolete swimming pool laws poised to change

Will be met with huge relief from smaller development complexes

Following years of complaints and concerns regarding the outdated and unworkable regulations on public and some private swimming pools in Cyprus, the obsolete laws are on the brink of change.

So tough have the regulations been that many complexes rented to tourists or sold to individuals were forced to close their pools in recent years.

At the end of 2023, the interior ministry presented a bill aimed at upgrading legislation regarding the characteristics and inspections of public and private swimming pools during a House interior committee meeting.

The revised bill, which is currently before the Legal Service, proposes three categories of swimming pools. The first category concerns swimming pools in water parks, the second covers hotel and tourist accommodation pools including those catering for more than five residential units. The third will encompass all others, smaller than five units which are rented to tourists or sold.

Depending on the category, construction permits will be issued, and periodic inspections will be carried out. Specifically, the bill specified that swimming pools included in the first two categories will undergo systematic health and safety checks, while those in the third category will only undergo sampling.

Additionally, lifeguards will now be required for supervision only in pools falling under the first two categories.

“The new legislation for swimming pools is now at the final stages of legal audit from the Legal Service,” a source at the interior ministry said.

“It will be approved by the Legal Service and then it will have to be approved by the cabinet.

This development was confirmed to the Cyprus Mail by the Legal Service as well.

In particular, the problem arises from the fact that Cyprus has for years categorised communal pools found at private complexes as public ones, subjecting them to strict laws designed for public facilities.

This has led to extensive requirements for obtaining a licence for a communal pool, including specific construction standards, the presence of a qualified lifeguard on duty at all times, and professional pool maintenance supervision.

“I own an apartment in Emba where the pool is currently closed due to the fear of prosecution of not adhering to the swimming pool laws,” Pam Simcox told the Cyprus Mail.

“One of the stipulations being that we need toilets, changing rooms and a lifeguard on duty. If things don’t change, this will be our third summer without use of the pool.”

She explained that, in order not to risk breaking the law, some of her family members preferred booking a hotel in the area, so that they could use the swimming pool.

“However, they noticed that there has been no lifeguard on duty since they arrived last week. Some friends of theirs are staying in holiday apartments nearby with no lifeguard there either.

“So, the irony is that we cannot use our apartment pool because the other residents and I cannot afford a lifeguard, yet they are actually paying to stay in a hotel operating without lifeguards!”

Peyia councillor Linda Leblanc has been advocating for legislative differentiation between private communal pools and public ones since 2007.

Over the years, she repeatedly stressed that Cyprus could easily implement EU standards, which classify complexes with shared pools for property owners, their guests, and families as ‘Type 3’ swimming pools, subject to different standards from public pools.

Leblanc highlighted the detrimental impact of the current laws on Cyprus tourism and property markets, urging for a swift resolution.

She often underlined the need for a proposal to change the law and for the interior ministry to take action, suggesting that solutions could be implemented quickly with a few adjustments to EU standards.

At present, privately owned holiday villas offered for rentals on platforms like Airbnb are also under scrutiny. Complex owners are being informed that their pools require operating licences due to being regarded as public ones, leading to closures and financial losses for property owners.

Russell Flick, a communal property specialist living in Limassol, started an online petition to change the law. The petition garnered over 8,000 signatures, enough to bring it before parliament. However, despite the widespread support for reform, progress has been slow.

Flick echoed Leblanc’s sentiments, stressing the urgent need for a review of the law and the application of common sense.

Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, he said that the strict enforcement of swimming pool laws, particularly in the Paphos district, has left many complex owners frustrated and facing financial hardships.


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