Friday, 7 August 2009

Swimming Pool Safety

I've written this because I have been trying to understand the definitive legal position on swimming pool safety in Spain as I found it very unclear.

At the beginning I was only trying to attract more guests to my villa by getting a pool installed. I've ended up finding promoting safety for kids was the best way to do it. I was only trying to find something different to get bookings for my villa and ensure my insurance was sufficient. I've focused on outdoor safety so that my guests could have a more relaxing break and I'm now having the best year of villa bookings I've ever had.

Who needs SKY tv to attract guests!

What I have tried to accomplish by writing this is to post what I found which probably matches your own findings and dispels some untruths. I've just tried to put mine on paper.

I found this:

I) There are NO EU laws, and none appear to be coming.

II) Spain has national swimming pool safety laws, but they are vague and seem to be focused on hotels, urbanizations and communities.

III) To comply with these national laws with a pool at a villa you need very little to comply.

IV) Some areas of Spain have local swimming pool safety laws, some don't. They are only relevant if you own a property there.

V) Communal pools have different laws to private villa pools and most communal pools are probably illegal.

Before I had my pool installed I was worried about accidents in pools so asked my pool installer about the law. When that info wasn't forthcoming I spoke to other owners and they all said something different. I then spoke to my lawyer, who directed me to the Ayuntamiento, who then directed me to the Local Government Officials.

All told me different things.

Sound familiar? It occurred to me through these conversations how dangerous this was.

The Swimming Pool Safety issue has 2 problems :

The first is that there are up to 4 sets of rules to follow.

The second is that none of them are the absolute answer.

I will try and be as clear and as brief as possible. I've put some useful links at the bottom of this as well


There aren't any EU laws and this is a common misconception. EU guidelines DO exist, but they are just that, merely guidelines. It is down to the individual country to produce laws and then to uphold them. I also cannot find any evidence of anything pending or due to be implemented.


The most up-to-date law in place appears to be REAL DECRETO 212/2005. The link to this is at the bottom of the page. This is in Spanish and is pretty comprehensive. It deals with all aspects of swimming pools ie, construction, registration, sanitation, water standards etc. It also appears to be geared mainly towards hotels and urbanizations. As far as I can see in relation to the safety of private pools you only need 3 things to comply with the national law and these should be displayed by your pool.

1 – Depth Signs

2 – CPR Instructions

3 – Emergency Services number.

Nothing else.

No Pool Alarms, Safety Hooks, Fences, Life Rings, Covers etc. I can't find anything telling me anything other than these 3 things.

I'm trying to refrain from giving opinions while I'm writing this, but the sooner the government pass better laws to protect kids around swimming pools the better. Why pool protection isn't part and parcel of buying a pool I don't know.

Given the choice, I can't understand why pool heaters, for instance, costing thousands of Euros seem to be more attractive and popular than really basic safety measures costing a lot less and from my experience are much more attractive to people when booking their holidays.

I mean, you probably only use a heater half the year, you'll only use it during off peak when theres much less people booking holidays, the electricity costs a fortune, everyone else has I missing something?

I'm not knocking pool heaters, it just seems they seem to be a higher priority when installing a pool?


Children can still drown in warm water.

I've been opportunistic in taking advantage of almost non-existent laws by using safety to get my villa successfully booked. It's been the most cost-effective thing I've done. Safety doesn't photograph as well on a rental web-site entries as a plasma tv but it's much cheaper than a big plasma telly or some expensive garden equipment, but for bookings, it's absolutely the best thing I did.

I don't think I'd feel too bad if I was losing the odd booking to someone else who had a slightly safer villa than me!


To me, this is where ALL the confusion comes from.

First thing, these are French laws, not Spanish. These French laws are referred to as "Raffarin" laws. If someone quotes EU law or something similar to you I guarantee they are referring to France and therefore have no bearing on any Spanish swimming pool. These laws were introduced from 2004, and from 2006 have been enforced through fines and pool closure.

If someone mentions €45000 fines it's France they're referring to, not Spain.

From the conversations I had with my lawyers and the local government I would speculate that when more regulation about private pools does come, and if the government has any sense or credibility it must, they will probably use these French laws as its base.


These laws are the ones that are changing, and it appears at an increasingly rapid rate judging by the number of regions in Spain that have changed recently. It also appears that from the number of posts on various sites and blogs that they are also being enforced by the local authorities.

It appears these regions of Spain are implementing and enforcing their own local laws which exceed the minimal national laws.

I've found a link to a forum with each regional situation which is at the bottom of the page.

It appears more than half of these regions now have some sort of local law. Andalucia seem to be at the front of this and they also appear to be using the French laws I mentioned above as the basis of what they are doing there and the local government need congratulating for it, more than the Canarian government would do! This is probably another reason why some people are confusing Frances law as somehow being relevant to them, when it isn't.

As these laws are regional what seems to be happening is that someone in the Canaries knows someone who has a villa in Murcia for example. They will tell their friend who owns a villa on Lanzarote about all these new laws which affect them, but forgets to mention or is unaware they only apply in Murcia, so word spreads. It just adds to the confusion.

Your local Ayuntamiento should have more details. If not, you can always sift through Google like I did for hours on end!


This is different to private pools so not relevant to me, but is potentially as big a problem. Kids are harder to keep track of when there are other people around.

Part of the REAL DECRETO mentioned above deals specifically with these pools and it lays out certain specifics. One of which is if there is a no lifeguard, either due to them being unnecessary due to the size of the development, or if they are not on duty, the pool should be fenced off with a lockable gate.

If you own an apartment or villa on a complex with a communal pool which is not protected in this way then the swimming pool IS currently illegal, could be closed down and frankly is an accident waiting to happen. I'd contact the community administrator to find the best solution for your community. In France the fine seems to go to €225,000. The cost of good protection for communal pools shared around each owner will surely be minimal.

This isn't an advert for my villa (which is why my villa web address isn't on here) and it isn't trying to advertise any business.

I've put the links for best source material I could find here so you can see the up-to-date position in the future.

Hope this clears up some things.

For Information – The French Raffarin law

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