Strict new by-laws for swimming pools

Johannesburg - New safety by-laws for residential swimming pools, which could have serious legal implications for homeowners, including a jail term, are about to be approved by the City of Joburg.

All pools will have to be registered with the City of Joburg and a certificate of compliance will have to be obtained by home-owners. Houses with pools will not be able to be sold without this certificate.

Other implications are that if the pool is not properly fenced off, and someone is injured or drowns in a pool, the public liability insurance may be invalidated.

The new regulations state that a pool has to be surrounded by a wall or fence, built or erected according to National Building Regulations, which a child of 7 would not be able to climb over. The ingress and exit doors have to have self-locking mechanisms and there many be no gaps greater than 100mm.

A pool net or cover, within certain specifications, or a floating pool alarm device, which is in the water at all times, may also be allowed.

The by-laws state that anyone with a swimming pool has to notify the council so that they can be registered. On inspection, a permit will be issued to the owner for the pool. Those pools that are already fenced at the time of the by-law passing will be inspected by an authorised official, to determine whether the existing fence is adequate.

Every indoor pool must be secured with the floor glide system or be fitted with a floating pool alarm device.

No child under the age of 7 may be permitted to be alone in a swimming pool. They will have to be accompanied by someone aged 18 or older.

Owners will be given 21 days in which to comply. They also have a right of appeal. The penalties allow for fines of R50 a day for every day of non-compliance.

They also specify a jail term of up to six months and an additional day for every day the pool is not compliant.

Courtesy The Star

As you no doubt already know, divorce is an extremely tough situation that opens up both emotional and financial issues to be solved. In all the turmoil, one of the most important decisions you need to make is what to do about the house.

Deciding what to do about the house really has 4 basic options, and is somewhat dependent on your prenuptial agreement. If you didn't sign a prenuptial agreement, then you are married in community of property. Essentially this means that everything that you and your ex-spouse have is shared and needs to either be divided equally or a different option negotiated.

Your options are as follows:

Sell the home

Selling your home in this situation should have only 1 main goal - to sell for the maximum price possible. While it is definitely possible to privately sell your house, even in these circumstances, research shows that it is definitely helpful to have an independent, unemotional, third party to assist you. From your side, you want the emotional struggle over quickly. A real estate agent has no emotional ties to the property - they want to sell your home fast, and for the most money possible!

Buy out your ex

Should you choose to keep the house for yourself, you will have to take a good look at your new financial situation to ensure that you can afford the monthly financial obligations. Remember that you will now have only one salary, and you may be forced to pay maintenance out of that income before being able to settle other monthly debts.

Have your ex buy you out

Should your ex want to keep the home, you would have the opportunity to start again with cash in your pocket. This is sometimes a great position, but be warned: the liability for a joint mortgage is still shared by you until the home is re-financed 100% under your ex's name - i.e. you still share the risk on your old home as long as you are a co-signatory on the bond. This liability may make it difficult for you to qualify for another loan, even though you do not have legal ownership of the old estate.

Retain joint ownership

In some cases, the couple may choose to put off large financial decisions such as selling the home until a later date. A couple may choose to rent out the house or allow one partner to live there while the other lives elsewhere. This choice lessens your immediate concerns, but ensure that there is a clear understanding of who is responsible for what in the home - like home maintenance, garden workers, broken lights, burst geysers, etc.

If you decide to sell the home, it will be important (although sometimes extremely difficult) to work closely with you ex in order to maximize your return. This process should be handled by a neutral professional, and both of you should be present when a mandate is signed with an estate agent. Both of you should ensure that you understand the contract, and both need to be part of the negotiations - your estate agent will provide helpful third party, independent advice.

Purchasing a new home should be done cautiously. Keep in mind that you are still in an emotional state and request the advice of an independent consultant or real estate agent. Also, ensure that the divorce agreement is finalized before you buy a new home or you may simply be adding to the divorce negotiations.

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