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Unexpected pool bills shock residents

Several Masterton residents have been shocked to receive a $165 bill from Masterton District Council [MDC] to pay for an inspection of their pools.

Resident Janelle Field said a pool inspector recently came onto her property without warning; she found a bill in her mail weeks later.

“It’s not even a pool; it doesn’t hold water; it’s just a wasteland, really,” she said.

“If I’d known, I would have got it sorted out.”

Field has since begun taking her pool apart to avoid paying for future inspections.

The $165 bill covers the inspection cost, but if the pool or spa is not compliant, an inspector will recheck it within 12 weeks.

MDC said there was no charge for the first recheck, but the owner could be subject to further fines if the pool is still not compliant at the recheck.

Field said the council needs to improve its system so people can prepare for the inspection.

“I’ve got four kids, and $165 is a lot of money,” she said.

“And for all I knew, he was just a creeper in my backyard.”

Lyn McDonald said she was sitting on her deck a couple of weeks ago when a woman appeared.

“She said she was doing inspections and proceeded to unlock my spa pool to look inside,” she said.

McDonald said the inspector said her spa was very good and then left after less than five minutes, and she was sent the bill a few weeks later.

“It’s just ridiculous,” she said.

An MDC spokesperson said the council started charging to inspect pools in 2017.

It initially cost $36 and was last year increased to $165.

“The initial swimming pool inspection fee of $36 has been removed as it was not covering the cost of the officer’s time,” the spokesperson said.

“The low fee had been used as an incentive in the past, but as the three-yearly inspection is a legislative requirement, the council considers that all pool owners should pay the cost of this service, and it should not be subsidised by the ratepayer.”

Inspectors have a right to inspect any residential pool during business hours, as outlined in section 222 of the Building Act 2004.

The Building Act also states that pools must be inspected every three years and that councils may charge residents for the inspection.

MDC said that it has been previously unable to meet the three-yearly inspection cycle due to under-resourcing but that “currently, resourcing allows inspections to proceed”.

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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