Laws affecting swimming pool owners in France

As a swimming pool owner, are you liable for accidents that happen in your pool when you’re not there?

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Private swimming pools across France have proved their worth this summer more than any other in recent memory, with families able to enjoy a dip in 'health bubble' safety.

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In September's edition of Connexion, we take an in-depth look at the costs and benefits of owning a swimming pool - but, here are the main rules that apply.

Whether your French property is your main home or a second home, there are legal obligations that could affect your insurance.

Always check what the insurance policy says about the use of your own swimming pool, and take note of your obligations. Most importantly, make sure you are in line with the law.

Remember, swimming pools are potentially lethal, and authorities can issue large fines if you have neglected your legal obligations.

Your pool - whether it is an in-ground or above ground one - must have safety equipment that meets French or EU standards - and it is your responsibility to ensure that that it does. There are fines of up to €45,000 for those who do not comply with pool safety regulations.

A pool alarm, which alerts you if something enters the water unexpectedly such as a human or animal, may be useful - but is only effective as long as someone is at the property. The law does not say you must be present but if it is possible that anyone could fall in while you are away, an alarm will not necessarily be the best option.

A more practical solution is a barrier capable of preventing a child reaching the pool, a firm safety cover (bâche) also capable of preventing a small child being immersed if they fell on it, or a rigid pool enclosure (abri). Reinforced pool covers must be able to support the weight of an adult.

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Second home owners whose property has a pool will need a special policy that covers the home as a holiday home, as well as civil liability (responsabilité civile propriétaire) to cover accidental damage to your neighbours' property.

You must ensure you are covered for any accidental damage caused to others by something that occurs on your property. If you are letting out your home – or even going to allow friends to come and stay – you must also ensure that your policy covers you for death, injury or damage to a third party on or near your property.

If you have a swimming pool, your liability insurance must also cover accidents around the pool. Remember, too, if you are not in compliance with French law, your insurer may not pay out.

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