Set to commence on Tuesday, the Residential Apartments Buildings (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Act 2020 will give the NSW Building Commissioner new powers to act to stop dodgy construction.

Under the Act, the Commissioner can:

  • Issue a stop work order if building work is being carried out, or likely to be carried out, in a manner that could result in a significant harm or loss to the public or current or future occupiers of the building;
  • Issue building work rectification orders to require developers to rectify defective building works; or
  • Prohibit the issuing of an occupation certificate in relation to building works in certain circumstances.

As well as new buildings which are not yet completed, the Act also applies to buildings which have been completed within ten years prior to the order being given.

This means developers could potentially be required to pay to fix defective building work for apartments which are not only planned or under construction but have been constructed during the past ten years.

The new law applies to apartments only – it does not apply to detached housing, commercial construction or other forms of residential construction.

The latest moves come as consumers throughout both Australia in general and NSW specifically have experienced significant financial and emotional distress as a result of poorly constructed buildings.

As well as high profile cases such as the Opal and Mascot Towers, these include thousands of apartment owners whose buildings have flammable cladding, defective waterproofing or structural defects.

Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said the new laws work to prevent buildings with serious defects going on the market, and give clear recourse in the event of a defect.

The days of shonky certifiers and dodgy developers ripping off unknowing apartment buyers are numbered. They are officially on notice – we can now stop you pushing defective buildings onto consumers,” Anderson said.

“From tomorrow (Tuesday), the Office of the NSW Building Commissioner will have the power to stop defective apartment blocks from being built and sold. Developers who have done the wrong thing can also face huge fines.”

NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler OAM said the new Act sends a clear signal that sub-standard projects will not be tolerated.

“Our sights are set on the small percentage of industry players who aren’t doing the right thing. Whether you are a builder cutting corners, or a certifier passing work that isn’t good enough – expect action from our new team of inspectors,” Chandler said.

“We acknowledge, however, that sometimes things may not always go to plan, and I want to assure industry that we will work constructively during the audit process with parties who are trying to do the right thing to help resolve issues efficiently.”