Following the tragic events in London last week there has been interest about the safety of Auckland’s buildings and the council’s role in ensuring safety.
Auckland Council takes building safety very seriously. We would not allow buildings to remain a risk and unsafe to the public. When we are made aware of a building that may be unsafe, we always take appropriate action to ensure safety as a priority.
Every building owner is required to ensure their buildings are safe and compliant with the Building Code, and if there are compliance issues, they must work to address these.
Auckland Council can take enforcement action if we are notified that buildings are found to be unsafe, by issuing notices-to-fix, or in some cases, issuing dangerous or insanitary building notices.
Under the Building Act, we are obligated to give the property owner a period of time to fix issues. This could mean that parts of a building are not able to be used, or we need evidence that work is being undertaken to make repairs.
In some cases, a notice will require that the building is vacated until it can be made safe. Where a building, or part of a building, is considered dangerous, an owner is required to urgently reduce that risk until a full repair can be done. That can be done in a number of ways.
These decisions are made by compliance staff with advice from engineers and building specialists.
If property owners do not comply with notices under the Building Act, prosecution will be considered.
Penny Pirrit, Director Regulatory Services, says building owners need to take responsibility for maintaining their property and ensuring they are safe for people to use.
“We use all of the regulatory tools that we can to ensure property owners keep their buildings safe.
“Building owners are responsible for keeping their buildings safe, maintained and operable. We will always take appropriate action to make sure buildings do not remain a risk if we are made aware of a danger.
“We must also keep in mind that a building owner may need to get building consents and do repairs to bring their buildings up to a compliant standard, and this can take time.”
There has been recent media coverage of buildings where the council has stepped in and exercised its powers to safeguard occupants, and we will continue to step in where necessary when property owners are not maintaining their buildings.