The purpose of this policy is to help protect people by giving council a way of dealing with buildings that are considered under the Building Act to be dangerous or insanitary for their occupants, neighbours or passers-by. All councils are required by the Building Act 2004 to have such a policy.
This is not only about office buildings, shops or industrial buildings, it’s also about houses and any other structure intended for occupation.
In the main, the content of such policies is dictated by legislation. The Building Act sets the criteria to classify a building as dangerous or insanitary. The Act also prescribes what the policy needs to contain, and the role of councils in identifying and remedying buildings that present a risk to their communities. Then each council gets to decide, through their policies and procedures, the approach they will use to do that.
We are proposing some changes to our existing policy, mainly to reflect changes to the Building Act. The bulk of this draft policy, and of the changes we’re proposing, is dictated by the Act so there’s not much wiggle room on many of the provisions, but we would like to know if you think we’ve missed anything, or if we should change anything to make the policy more effective.
Read on to find out more about the proposed changes. If you’re not interested in the policy rules, but would like to know what to do if you have concerns about a building and what council can do about it, skip to the bottom of the page.
Have your say by 5pm on Thursday, 10 October 2019
Statement of proposal (84kb pdf) Draft Dangerous and Insanitary Buildings Policy (with mark-ups) (234kb pdf)
Online submission form
This is a formal consultation. Hearing of submissions will take place in November or December 2019. We’ll use your feedback to propose a final revised policy for adoption by Council in December 2019. Once adopted the new policy will replace Council’s current Earthquake-prone, Dangerous and Insanitary Buildings Policy.
If you have any questions please contact the strategic policy and planning team on 07 577 7000 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Some (shortened) definitions
Dangerous building: a building that, for reasons other than earthquakes, is likely to cause injury or death, by collapse or otherwise; or that is likely to cause damage to other property. For example: a building that has become unstable or lost structural integrity.
Insanitary building: a building that is offensive or is likely to cause a health risk because of how it is situated or constructed, or because it is in a state of disrepair; one that suffers from dampness and is likely to cause it in an adjoining building; or one that doesn’t have adequate water supply or sanitary facilities. For example: a house that has been flooded and can’t be inhabited anymore because of the damage.
Affected building: a building that poses a risk to its users and passers-by because of its proximity to a dangerous building which could e.g. collapse on it or interfere with fire escape routes.
Find the full legal definitions in the draft policy (234kb pdf)
Proposed changes to the policy, and why we want to make them
Proposed change: Removing the provisions relating to earthquake-prone buildings from the policy (including its title).
Why: Provisions relating to earthquake-prone buildings are now included in the Building Act, so they’re not needed in this policy anymore.
Proposed change: Including ‘affected buildings’ in the policy. These are buildings that pose a risk to building users and passers-by because of their proximity to a dangerous building.
Why: This is a new requirement of the Building Act 2004.
Adding information on council’s approach to identifying and managing dangerous, affected and insanitary buildings:
Proposed change: Clarifying that we will use external sources to inform us of dangerous, affected and insanitary buildings (e.g. building occupants, neighbours, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, NZ Police and other agencies).
Why: A reactive approach based on complaints (as opposed to a proactive one where we would need to send staff to inspect each building in the city on a regular basis) is the most efficient use of resources.
Proposed change: Clarifying that we’ll consider any special, traditional or cultural aspects of heritage buildings if they are assessed as dangerous or insanitary.
Why: We want to be clear on how we will deal with heritage buildings that are found to be dangerous or insanitary. It makes sense to ensure we give consideration to the special characteristics of a heritage building and its use when deciding how to manage it if it’s found dangerous or insanitary.
Proposed change: Clarifying that we will give priority to buildings requiring work urgently to protect life or health or prevent serious damage to property.
Why: The Building Act requires our policy to state our priority in dealing with dangerous and insanitary buildings.
Have your say now
Dealing with dangerous and insanitary buildings – how does it work?
If you have concerns about a building, get in touch right away with council. We will assess the condition of the building in accordance with the Building Act. If we find the building to be dangerous or insanitary (under the Building Act), we will issue a notice to restrict access to the building, and work with the owner so they can make it safe. If the owner refuses to do this, council can take over the works and charge the owner for them. Depending on the situation we may need to evacuate the building.
If there’s a building nearby that is affected by the state of this building, e.g. if the issue is making access to the adjacent building dangerous, we will take steps to remove the danger (e.g. create alternative access).
Note: the Building Act sets the threshold to classify a building as dangerous or insanitary. There are no buildings identified as dangerous in Tauranga at the moment.