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Swimming pool owners face court action

The owners of unlicensed communal swimming pools are facing court action following inspections carried out by the Paphos Municipality who insist that pools must be licenced, inspected daily and a lifeguard appointed.

Cyprus swimming poolWE UNDERSTAND that the Paphos Municipality is taking the owners of more than 150 communal swimming pools to court as the pools they manage do not have a licence, a lifeguard or someone responsible for inspecting the pool on a daily basis to ensure it complies with health and safety regulations.

Letters have also been sent by a property management company contracted by Management Committees in the Paphos and Pegeia Municipalities advising that their management fees will increase.

The increase is due to the requirement to licence their swimming pools, analyse its water on a weekly basis and to employ a qualified lifeguard and certified first-aider for 8 hours a day/7 days a week for 6 months of the year. The management company anticipates that the cost of a lifeguard will be €672/week.

For a block of 10 apartments the additional management fees paid by each apartment to cover the cost of a lifeguard alone would be more than €1,700/annum. These fees, together with the other management fees for insurance, maintenance, repair, restoration, utilities and management of the rest of the complex, would bring the total fee for an owner in line with the management fees by someone living in a London apartment (which are £1,863 to £2,777 per annum according to figures published in 2016.)

Giving the many thousands of communal swimming pools in Cyprus it’s extremely unlikely there are sufficient qualified lifeguards and certified first-aiders to meet the potential demand.

Swimming pool regulations

As Cyprus Property News has reported many times over the years, these issues stem from the island’s antiquated regulations that consider communal swimming pools in private residential developments (apartment blocks, terrace/town houses and maisonettes) as public swimming pools, which are required to have life guards, toilets for the disabled, showers and other facilities:

Cyprus Law N.55(I)/92 states in paragraph 2 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 states in paragraph 47 (1) that all the employees relating to the swimming pool have to obtain a health certificate, to be clean and to behave properly.

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.

Paragraph 47 (2)(a)(i) states that for small swimming pools at least one trained supervisor is necessary to be appointed.

Part VII of the Regulations Paragraph 53 states that an annual license is needed for the operation of a swimming pool by applying to the relevant authority. The last decision is made by the Minister.

(Readers may click here to view the swimming pool regulations in Greek.)

Vacuous announcements

Over the years there have been the usual vacuous announcements from the Interior Ministry that we have come to expect:

In May 2007 the government was in the process of drafting a slight change to the law governing public swimming pools.

In August 2008 the government was looking into changes in the law.

In January 2015 the Interior Ministry proposed a draft a new law and sent it to Legal Services for scrutiny.

In December 2016 the Interior Ministry announced that the swimming pool laws and regulations would soon be revised as part of an overall package of measures. (Interior Ministry announcement – Greek.)

None of the vacuous announcements have resulted in any change.

Recommendations

Government

The Government must stop making vacuous announcements and take urgent and positive action to bring the swimming pool regulations into the 21st century and in line with their European partners.

For example there are two standards approved by the European Committee for Standardization relating to all types of swimming pools:

EN 15288-1: 2008 Swimming pools – Part 1: Safety Requirements for Swimming Pool Design (English)

EN 15288-2: 2008 Swimming pools – Part 2: Safety Requirements for Swimming Pool Operation (English)

These standards consider pools that are solely for the owner’s/proprietor’s/operator’s family and guests (including the use connected with renting houses for family use) as private pools.

Anyone wishing to petition the Minister of the Interior on this subject should write to:

Mr Constantinos Petrides
Minister of Interior of the Republic of Cyprus
Dimostheni Severi Avenue
1453 Nicosia
Cyprus

Management Committees

Management Committees should call a general meeting of owners to discuss the additional costs involved in operating swimming pools and decide what action they should take to manage the situation.

Potential investors

Anyone thinking of buying or investing in a property in Cyprus must consider the significant additional running costs involved if they buy a property on a complex with a swimming pool. These additional costs make buying a property in a complex with a shared swimming pool a much less attractive proposition.

Readers' comments

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  • Rickie Welbourn-Davies says:

    It would seem to me the bank cash grab a few years ago didn’t raise enough cash so let’s clobber the private owners again, it’s just another cynical money maker all they will do is destroy their most valuable asset.

  • Alison says:

    Informative article and interesting comments.

    Thanks to Russell for pointing us to the petition.

    I suggest everyone gets all their friends to sign so that we can start getting something done.

    I did wonder if the Cypriot government are misinterpreting the EU standards – maybe due to a language problem (seems unlikely but you never know) – or just being wilfully idiotic.

  • richard smith says:

    Yet another example of how health and safety regulations suffocate reasonable business.

    Surely, private or shared pool safety should be a matter for the insurance companies; not lumped in with Government Public safety measures.

  • Adrian says:

    Health and safety fascism gone mad. Even worse than here in England! I think I’d be inclined to ignore the law and let the local authority do it’s damnedest.

  • Mike says:

    I can only go by what I see but following this announcement a week or so ago by Nigel I visited my interest in Paphos, on a complex, and noted there is a sign up to say there is no lifeguard on duty alongside a sign stating the pools rules of usage and another stating it is for the use of residents and guests. There is a lifering at hand and a maintenance man certainly takes samples of the pool water daily. Now for all I know the developers management company maintaining the complex may have nominated someone on paper to be a lifeguard, there is certainly no one on visible duty and never has been. The complex is around 10 years old,very well maintained but we wait to see what transpires.

    Ed: I know of other jointly-owned pools that have signage, a barrier around the pool, etc. and operate without a lifeguard. The law isn’t applied universally.

  • Michael Gillians says:

    Hi Nigel thank you for informative article about swimming pool regs their seems to be bandied information around that if pool is 1.8 mt deep or less these regs do not apply do you have any info on this best regards Mike

    Ed: I have read through the swimming pool law and the regulations. I haven’t been able to find any references to a minimum depth.

  • Don says:

    I think your response answers my question with regards to the source of your article.

    Ed: As you will see in an earlier comment (by me) someone else spoke with the Executive Engineer of Peyia Municipality for details of what’s needed to get a swimming pool licence.

  • Don says:

    Not exactly good journalism “someone who met with”. This still doesn’t confirm the article is true or not as there is no source, input or comment from the municipalities or courts.

    Ed: You can always visit the Paphos Municipal offices and get it directly from the horse’s mouth if you wish. The courts do not publish lists of pending cases – only judgements (for obvious reasons) – and they’ve got enough on their hands as it is dealing with the backlog.

  • Don says:

    Your article is slightly misleading as you infer that action has been instigated against the 150 complexes by the municipality. Has this been confirmed by either the courts or the municipalities involved that this is the case?

    The property Management company you quote is well known but for some reason it is apparently the only one to send out letters to the complexes they manage.

    Ed: The actual number (a week ago) was 161. This was confirmed by someone who met with the Paphos Municipality to understand fully what was needed. (There are more cases that do not involve the property management company.)

    Regardless of whether a property management company is involved, commonly-owned buildings are required (by law) to have a Management Committee, which is responsible for ensuring the laws and regulations are enforced and collecting the management fees. That Management Committee can contract the maintenance, repair, etc. of the jointly-owned parts to a third party, such as a property management company, if it wishes.

  • Aly Barrett says:

    If this gets passed about every pool having a lifeguard then most of the pools will have to close as they will not be able to afford the money. Also there is not enough trained life guards.

  • john says:

    Does anybody know why the Cypriot authorities seem unable to resolve this apparently simple issue? – is it that the Hoteliers (who have to abide by the public pool requirements) are lobbying for no-change in a mistaken effort to protect their selfish interests?

    Ed: Classifying non-commercial public swimming pools as private and developing regulations concerning the health & safety of their users would have no effect on hoteliers.

  • Drew Eves says:

    Where can you get a copy of the legislation translated into English?

    Ed: English language translations of the regulations are not available. But it’s quite easy to get an approximate translation by downloading them onto your computer and translate then using the ‘translate a document feature in Google Translate.

  • john says:

    Once more the Paphos Authorities send out their often repeated message – if you are not a Cypriot, then do NOT buy a property here (or anywhere else in Cyprus)- what is the real motive?

    Ed: There are Cypriots as well as non-Cypriots affected by this. I don’t know why people think that it’s only foreigners who are affected?

  • Peter den Hoed says:

    I wonder when this madness will stop.

    Is there nobody among the responsible authorities who will use his/her common sense?

    I remember with disgust that in 2010 three Owners of our complex were taken to court and their passports were taken by the Court. They were treated like criminals and had to pay a fine.

    Ed: The madness will only stop when the government changes the law. They are (allegedly) working on it and a petition has been set up to help chivvy them along – see below.

  • Chris says:

    Thank you for a very informative article.

    I note that reference is made to hiring a lifeguard for six months. Can you please clarify what six months are being referred to, e.g. is it April to September inclusive and what is the position for the other six months of the year? Finally can confirm that the six months is stipulated in the regulations.

    Ed: The six months/year was in the letter sent by the property management company. However, the regulations say that staff must be present while the swimming pool is in operation.

    Therefore, if the pool is in operation for more than 6 months/year a lifeguard would be required for a longer period.

  • Russell says:

    I just don’t understand the objective of the municipality.

    Most apartment blocks will have to close their pools.

    Meaning no licence fee money to the municipality and the property market nose diving.

    If the European regulations were adopted, all complexes could obtain a licence, thus providing a good source of annual income for the municipality.

    This petition has been set up to urgently review the law and suspend current procedures against committees until the review is finished. It needs 8000 signatures.

    Calling for a fair and honest review of the Swimming Pool Regulations for apartment complexes and resorts petition.

    Ed: The European Standard EN 15288-2 defines PRIVATE use swimming pools as “for 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.”

    In addition to swimming pools in jointly-owned property, the private use swimming pools include pools owned by single units. In France, for example, private use in-ground swimming pools, spas and hot tubs are subject to the Raffarin law. Owners of private pools who fail to adhere to the law face a fine of €45,000.

    The government (allegedly) are reviewing the swimming pool laws, hopefully your petition will help them get on with it.

  • Don says:

    150 complexes with roughly 10 houses per complex equates to 1500 owners who will be responsible and therefore taken to court. Multiply this by all public pools, private villas etc which rent out to visitors and you are looking at thousands of accused people having to go through the legal system for contravening the 1996 act.

    The EU Standardization which should supersede the 1996 Act is being ignored by the Cypriot Government. Tourism is the loser in this.

    Ed: It isn’t individual owners who will be take to court, it will be the responsible person(s) i.e. The Management Committee (probably the chair).

    In 2016 Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides called on the police to intervene in respect of unlicensed swimming pools around Cyprus.

    According to his annual report, 241 of the 297 swimming pools in Paralimni, for example, are being used without a licence. On an island-wide level, that figure rises to 780 out of 1,166 swimming pools. Also included in this group are 141 of the 219 swimming pools in Paphos, 99 of the 207 in Ayia Napa, 140 of the 161 swimming pools in Germasogeia, 64 of the 90 in Peyia and 11 of the 23 under Limassol Municipality’s jurisdiction.

    Nothing happened!

    Unfortunately in this particular situation EU Standards do not superseded local standards & laws. The swimming pool issue was raised in the European Parliament by MEP Arlene McArthy in 2011:

    Question

    European Standard for swimming pools and its application in the municipality of Paphos

    On 25 July 2008, the European Committee for Standardisation approved a European Standard for swimming pools (Swimming Pools — Part 2: Safety Requirements for Design and Operation, EN 15288-2.) This European Standard was to be given the status of a national standard, and all conflicting national regulations should have been withdrawn by March 2009 at the latest.

    I represent a constituent who owns a property in a holiday complex in Cyprus. The complex has a shared pool, for the use of the property owners and their families and guests. Therefore, under European Standard EN 15288-2 it would be classed as a Type 3 swimming pool, making it subject to different standards than a public swimming pool.

    However, the municipality of Paphos in Cyprus has recently taken legal action against several local holiday complexes, including my constituent’s, because they have not applied for a swimming pool licence. Under a 1994 Cypriot law, any pool which is used by more than one property is classified as a public swimming pool, and is subject to the same regulations, in contradiction of the European Standard.

    What action will the Commission take to ensure that such unfair legal proceedings are immediately halted, and the correct European standards enforced? What aid and advice will the Commission provide to those residents who have already been taken to court regarding this wrongful application of Cypriot law, and paid fines?

    Answer

    The question concerns a conflict between national regulations and a European standard. The European Standard for swimming pools, EN 15288-2, appears to conflict with Cypriot law on swimming pools.

    European standard EN 15288-2 was developed and adopted by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN). Each CEN national member, which includes the national standardisation body of Cyprus, must implement the European standard by giving it the status of a national standard and withdrawing any conflicting national standard(s). However, a CEN member may be confronted with the situation where it has to implement a European standard that does not comply with its national legislation. As the application of European standards is generally voluntary (unlike legislation), in these circumstances the CEN member is entitled to request a derogation from the mandatory replacement of the national standard by the European standard. This derogation is effected through the application of a so called ‘A-deviation’, to be included in the informative annex to the European standard.

    It is not clear whether the national standardisation body of Cyprus has requested an A-deviation with respect to the European standard EN 15288-2. However, even if this was not the case, national legislation would prevail over the European standard in the event of conflict. In the absence of EU legislation applicable to the safety of swimming pools, the obligation to seek a swimming pool licence will have to be assessed by the Cypriot courts.

  • pils says:

    Many complex pools will close due to increase maintenance costs, voting rights will be a favour of getting rid of these pools. However people in favour of keeping these pools will have problems, employing lifeguards for a 6 month period, where are these lifeguards are they plentiful and available immediately for employment? These regulations as stated involve costly implementations by experienced people.

    Little though process given and the outcome is questionable. Again leaving people owning property in a state on dismay with properties devalued, difficult to sell and increased maintenance costs to be met by us all.

    When people realised the serious of this decision by the authorities concerned and fully implemented as stated who would want to buy a property on a development in Cyprus?

  • @All – this was posted on my FB page earlier today:

    “I can confirm that I have been and personally sat with the Executive Engineer of Peyia Municipality today and she has provided me with the following details in order to be compliant in order to gain a pool license.

    1. Architectural drawings of pool facilities to include showers, toilets, changing rooms and foot baths.

    2. Certificate from employed lifeguard.

    3. Photographs of pool(s)

    4. The completion of forms provided by Mechanical Engineer.

    5. Confirmation from appointed lifeguard of their address, ID, hours of work and social ID.

    6. Medical certificate for lifeguard to be obtained from General Hospital.

    7. Water Analysis test.

    8. Letter from chairman of complex committee confirming their details and all the above points correct and in order.

    I also asked if the lifeguard had to be present and the answer was yes. Name only is NOT acceptable. Also each pool has to have a separate Lifeguard.

    She was very helpful but said this is the current law.”

  • Jim says:

    If this law remains as is, I can see many pools being filled in & used as a tennis court, or other such use.

  • mollimoo says:

    If they implement this stupid Law, which I understand is being looked at to add an amendment which excludes residential/communal pools from Public, then prospective buyers of existing or future projects are very likely to drop in their droves (apart from mega projects apparently).

    Surely the dim wits in Paphos know what they are trying to enforce is nonsense. They should get on with bringing this Law up to EU standards and not closing down pools or imposing ridiculous requirements that are impossible to comply with.

  • embapaphos says:

    Just recently the golden goose is the cash for visas game and properties and money being exchanged are huge trust me I know…. very large and prestige projects being bank funded and then in a matter of a few months ALL sold by developer, don’t think sellers or buyers of these mega projects are going to be put off by pool fees….BUT yes punishing those who have already purchased just plain wrong….government has a habit of this…..like I said in the past I am wondering when the IPT will come back….and I am certain that’s when the bubble bursts.

  • scott Stanfield says:

    Was this all pointed out by the lawyer to the purchaser of the property at the time of purchase and was an agreement signed with regards this also not just with regards to the life guard needed but also changing rooms etc, if not then surely the so called lawyer is libel.

    Either way I am sure Ed will defend the Cypriot authorities and lawyers as he usually does. Further does this also mean that a pool can only be used for six months a year?

    Ed: Lawyers should advise their clients of the situation. Changing rooms, etc. are part of the planning application, which will be refused if they’re not included.

    I’ve included a link to the pool regulations – you can download them and get a reasonable English translation using Google Translate.

    As for defending the Cypriot authorities and lawyers, where have I done that?

  • George says:

    i dont see why the owners cant sign a disclaimer saying that they understand that there is no lifeguard on duty and the use of the pool is at there own risk.

    Where does one find a lifeguard willing to work for only 4 months a year and then will be reliable enough to come next year again. how will they feed themselves and families the remaining part of the year.

    Also there could be a sign at the pool that states “No Life Guard On Duty. Swim at your own risk”. the parents of children should want to train themselves in saving their kids lives if something goes wrong and as for adults its there own personal responsibility.

    Ed: you’ll can read what others have done in one of my earlier comments.

  • Bob Ellis says:

    As usual Cyprus profits from others misery through local stupidity and greed. It is clear that the Cyprus laws are not aligned to EU laws as well as being unfit for purpose.

    You have to wonder how Cyprus believes it will save itself from economic collapse when it is just about to destroy its real estate market, enforcing a ridiculous situation like this. Why would anyone buy a badly built over priced property in Cyprus if they now come with crippling running costs? Once again, foreigners will be forced to pay unfairly with Cyprus loosing out in the long run when nobody buys any properties! or stops trusting Cyprus completely.

    As always, this would be a very simple issue to fix but I am sure as always personal agendas, corruption and greed will get in the way of common sense.

    Ed: It’s not only foreigners who will face crippling running costs.

  • Sandra says:

    It is a great shame they have still not updated this “not suitable for use” law after many years. Instead of using their energies chasing hapless owners they would be held in better regard if they actually did something positive to amend the law!

    They do not seem to realise, they are killing the golden goose. Who, in the right mind will buy a property with exorbitant fees or, where there is no pool because it has been filled in? That is what people expect from a holiday home. How will there be any movement of property for those wanting to sell up? No one will want to buy! Very strange behaviour from people who supposedly represent their community.

    Ed: This problem has been around for many years – if you search you’ll find articles dating back to 2005, but it hasn’t put off people buying property here. And while people continue to buy there is little incentive for the government to do anything.

  • Chris W says:

    We are a small community of 25 units with only 5 units in permanent residency. At most times there is no more than 5 people in the smallish pool (even at peak times). and for about 8 months in the year near zero use.

    If a monitored CCTV camera was installed and a Panic button alarm, would this possibly go some way to mitigation?

    On the water testing, is this the pool maintenance company PH and Chlorine test or a weekly microbiological test, do you know.

    Does a supervisor just have to be on site or have visual eye on the pool. How do we find out about having an owner become qualified.

    Ed: I can’t speak on behalf of the court regarding what can be done to mitigate the situation, but it would be worthwhile speaking with your pool maintenance company to see what others have done. (I know that some management committees have erected signs saying the pool is unsupervised and people using it do so at their own risk – and another sign showing the opening and closing times of the pool. They’ve also erected a gated ‘fence’ around the pool to reduce the risk of accidents.)

    I expect the supervisor will need to be trained and certified, but I have no idea how you would go about this.

    (I’ve had a quick look at the regulations. They mention PH testing but I haven’t spotted anything else.)

    I suggest you speak with swimming pool suppliers in your area to see precisely what tests are needed.

  • Hudswell says:

    “Project Fear” comes to Cyprus…absolutely impossible,to enforce, or indeed implement…the law is an ass…

  • Andreas C Chrysafis says:

    It always a good feeling to hear that someone finally tries to apply the law of the land… Public swimming pools were a selling point for developers/banks to sell their stock and did not give a damn or share any responsibility once sold.

    It is also unfair that property owners are now facing hefty bills and something has to be done about this and exonerate existing home-owners that were duped by the original developer.

    At the same time Paphos Municipality has to start acting responsibly and make sure the law is applied accordingly. There is room for negotiations!

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