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Residents in hot water over swimming pool regulations

A group of residents in Kato Paphos are demanding that the Cyprus laws on private swimming pools are updated after their passports were temporarily confiscated over non-compliance with regulations.

PROPERTY owners at the complex in question have been trying to cut through legal red tape for more than 18 months over the operation of a small pool. They hope to clear up the issue before the summer.

According to a spokesman for the residents, swimming pool-rules on Cyprus are still handled according to the laws of 1992 and 1996 classing the facility as ‘public’.

“These stipulate that, in order to obtain an operation licence, residents of a ‘public’ communal pool must install a chlorinator, electrical improvements and drawings of the electrical panel of the pool, drawings of the swimming pool pump room, two changing rooms, two chemical toilets, one oxygen bottle and a foot-bath. Additionally, under the laws they must employ a lifeguard at the cost of approximately €2,000 per month,” he told The Cyprus Weekly.

“Our pool is virtually a splash pool. The maximum depth is 1.4 metres. Most of the owners have a swimming certificate, but this is not acceptable for the authorities. They insist that we do a professional course which is unacceptable for us as most of the owners are over 70 years old.”

Most of the owners at the complex live abroad and visit Cyprus at most twice a year and say they are aggravated by “impossible rules of the municipality.”

Municipalities are responsible for enforcing laws on public swimming pools. For years the authorities turned a blind eye to the laws on public pools over concerns that a necessary increase in communal charges would put off potential buyers of properties in complexes.

But the Interior Ministry has demanded municipalities provide documents for operating licences.

Pools attached to a private home are not affected by the laws. Paphos Municipality confirmed to The Cyprus Weekly that it is in charge of public swimming pools but the specific staff member was not available to clarify what constitutes a public pool or whether the laws are being updated to the EU framework.

Property owners at the complex in question had their passports taken away by the court and were required to return several times before retrieving them after the judge said their failure to comply with pool regulations was a criminal offence.

“These were honest people in their seventies. The legal and court fees were €1,350. What a shame for Cyprus,” the spokesman said.

“Cyprus signed and adopted the EU-standards over communal pools. These European standards have been given the status of a national standard and conflicting national standards should have been with drawn at the latest by March 2009. Apparently these standards were published in the Cyprus Official Gazette on October 24, 2008. In other words, Cyprus is bound to implement these European standards.”

Introduced in 2008 and known as EN 15288-1 and EN 15288-2, the European Union standards have been prepared by a special Technical Committee.

The EU-standard means that the pool in question must be classed under Type 3 as a private pool rather than a public pool and therefore be free from the requirements stipulated under the 1992 and 1996 laws.

But after the court-case the residents were under pressure from Paphos Municipality to install the facility improvements as required by the Cyprus Law in order to get the licence. The total cost of this was €6,900.

“Today we still do not have the licence for the pool as we do not have a lifeguard. We did not have another alternative other than to close the pool and so we did as of November 2010 until further notice. The time has come to change the Cyprus Law into the EU standards so that the authorities in most cases can give a licence to the complexes and stop with impossible money-eating regulations.”

Meanwhile, Peyia councillor, Linda Leblanc is trying to get some answers on how the legislation affects residents there.

“I’ve been trying to get things moving through Peyia Municipality but we are still stuck with no action and no further news on the legislative side yet.”

Editor’s comments

According to the Cyprus swimming pool regulations:

  • Cyprus Law N.55(I)/92 paragraph 2 states that the term ‘public swimming pool’ also includes the swimming pools of buildings which are used by the owners of the units or their tenants.
  • Regulation Number 368/96 paragraph 47 (1) states that all the employees relating to the swimming pool have to obtain a health certificate, to be clean and to behave properly.
  • Regulation Number 368/96 paragraph 47(2) states that all the trained supervisors will be on duty during the operation and the use of the swimming pool. Their number is determined in accordance with the size of the swimming pool and the number of the persons usually using the swimming pool.
  • Regulation Number 368/96 paragraph 47 (2)(a)(i) states that for small swimming pools at least one trained supervisor is necessary to be appointed.
  • Regulation Number 368/96 Part VII paragraph 53 states that a license is needed for the operation of a swimming pool by applying to the relevant authority. The last decision is made by the Minister.

However, according to the European Union standard EN 15288-2, Type 3 pools are “private use – use of an installation designated solely for the owner’s/proprietor’s/operator’s family and guests including the use connected with renting houses for family use”.

Readers' comments

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  • Robert Briggs says:

    I have e-mailed this report on to the U.K.I.P. Likewise the E.C. reply to the Cyprus property problems and malpractices/ complaints. R.B.

  • petrocelli says:

    Firstly, the EU Standards are guidelines only and therefore have no legal standing whatsoever.

    Yes Cyprus signed up to them, but as they are only guidelines they cannot supercede existing national legislation.

    The amazing thing to me is the fact that although this legislation has been in place since 1992, the Cypriot authorities have chosen not to enforce them until now.

    Perhaps if they had it would have put paid to the property boom which has ruined large parts of Cyprus.

  • Mike says:

    The law is the law, well at least it is if can be used to generate revenue and a bonus if at the same time can alienate foreigners.

    Interesting to note…”the judge said their failure to comply with pool regulations was a criminal offence”. Such a pity judges do not see the selling to third parties property previously sold to others as a criminal offence or developers taking mortgages against previously sold properties. Very strange if not bizarre.

  • Robert Grigsby says:

    That’s just what Cyprus needs,to put off any buyers in a deep recession! Talk about killing the goose that lays the golden egg!

  • Adrian says:

    Its a pity that the authorities do not enforce all the regulations as regards planning etc.instead of only the ones that suit them. Did any Cypriots have their passport taken away. I would contact the British embassy and demand an apology and refund of all monies. What they did is illegal surely!!

  • John Swift says:

    A lifeguard at 2000 euros per month! I want a job like that.

  • Steve says:

    Are the courts not responsible for the interpretation and application of the laws? If a judgement is handed down that you don’t like, then you must appeal to a higher court and hope you get an appeal judge who agrees with you. All these amateur interpretations count for nothing. Also, I wonder if the EU laws are just the minimum requirements rather than chapter and verse.

    For me, the really disturbing aspect is the change of attitude of the authorities. Until recently, whether communal pools for the use of residents and their guests are public or private was an academic debate, because the authorities did not enforce any of the laws, neither EU nor Cypriot. Now, I wonder what will happen if some other laws are suddenly enforced, for example no occupancy without a Final Certificate of Approval.

  • Costas Afortune says:

    So does this now mean that every hotel pool used by holiday makers (as well as locals who seem to come in at the end of the day or at weekends) now needs to have a certified life guard for the duration of the pool opening hours?

    If this is the case, someone should walk around during holiday times, and name each of the hotel/development to the authority’s and let’s see how they then police against there own people! Why is it they can flout as many EU laws as they wish, but use certain ones to cream more cash from Brits and other investors? Do they not realise all these issues are fuel, to tell would be investors at property fairs etc reasons not to invest in Cyprus? Is this yet another government department trying to get as much money out of us as possible? Wake Up Cyprus, you have burst the bubble but there’ll be no tears from us Brits.

  • Moufflon says:

    If an oxygen bottle is needed, you would need a medical professional to administer. Also highly dangerous if not stored or used properly.

    I would ask why the General Hospital ambulances do not carry oxygen bottles?

  • Peter says:

    @ James

    I can answer that one, but we like your money.

  • Johnny Cyprus says:

    A large proportion of ‘Communal’ pools in Cyprus would be closed by the HSE on safety or health risks if they were in the UK.

    ‘Operators’ (owners) might even face criminal charges there too. Local authorities also have powers to determine compliance with the ‘regulations’.

    The blame for the Cyprus problem rests with a toxic mix of property developers, designers, pool engineers, incompetent maintenance companies and harsh environment.

    Oh yes and starry-eyed buyers.

  • Costas Apacket says:

    I think you know the answer to your question already Pete?

    The number you are looking for comes just below 1 (and I’m not talking 0.999!)

  • James JH Lockhart says:

    Do you get the feeling Brits are not wanted ?

  • Pete says:

    This will open a whole can of worms if the municipality aren’t careful. I would question the validity of confiscating passports if no criminal charges have been laid; freedom of movement is covered by the Human Rights Charter to which Cyprus is a full signatory. And I wonder how many Cypriot complex owners will suffer the same fate as those Brits? Certainly I know of quite a few who fulfil none of the above requirements so it might be nice to know the council employee responsible for administering the law so we can ensure fair treatment for all. Then we’ll see how many Cypriot passports are confiscated.

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