Dangerous and insanitary building scenarios


What are some examples of the type of situations the current policy covers?


Example one: A home overlooking Wellington’s south coast has had significant erosion of the hillside close to the house, undermining the house’s foundations. There is a high likelihood of the property slipping which could result in injury or death and/or damage to other nearby property.

What would Council do?

On being notified, Council would quickly inspect the property to see how unsafe the situation was and determine whether there was a high risk of injury or death or whether damage could be caused to other nearby property. The staff in Council’s building compliance team may also seek the advice of qualified engineers. The owner would be advised to contact their insurer and EQC.

If the instability of the building was a major concern, Council would fence off the property and issue a Section 124(2)(d) notice[1] restricting entry to specified people. A Section 124(2)(c) notice would be issued to outline the steps that the property owner needs to take to make the situation safe.

What would it mean for the property-owner?

This depends on the severity of the issue but the Notice of works required under Section 124(2)(c) would set out the actions the home owner would need to undertake. This may include remedial building work required to make the situation safe again eg retaining wall, demolition. The property owner is required to apply for appropriate consents and undertake the urgent work within the allowed timeframe (not less than 10 days).

In some circumstances extremely urgent work may be undertaken to remove the immediate life safety threats.

There may be extreme situations where a property owner may not be allowed into the property or are only allowed to retrieve valuable items.

What would it mean for neighbouring properties?

Council is required to contact the owners and occupiers of affected adjacent, adjoining or nearby properties and give them a copy of the notice issued. In extreme situations, they may also need to vacate their properties until the situation is made safe. Council would work in with EQC and the property owners insurer to the right work is undertaken by the right people (the Council will only do work like fencing or hoardings if the owner / insurer is unable to or are not responding in a timely manner).


Example two: A villa in Thorndon that is scheduled as a heritage building in the District Plan suffered some partial fire damage and possibly structural damage as well. The site would be fenced off and entry restricted while the building safety (risk of collapse) was being assessed by Fire and Emergency New Zealand, insurers, Council and relevant engineers.

What would Council do?

Council would work with Fire and Emergency New Zealand and notify Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga (HNZPT) if it was a listed building. The Council’s building compliance teams, resource consent and heritage teams and HNZPT staff would work with the property owner and insurer to determine an approach that protects as much heritage value as possible.

What would it mean for the property-owner?

This depends on the severity of the damage but the Notice of works required under Section 124(2)(c) would set out the remedial building work required to make the situation safe again. The property owner is required to apply for all the necessary and appropriate consents (Council and HNZPT’s) and undertake the work within the allowed timeframe (not less than 10 days).

What would it mean for neighbouring properties?

During the event, neighbouring properties would be evacuated by fire crews if they were in danger. Subsequently, if the building was declared dangerous, the Council would contact the owners and occupiers of affected adjacent, adjoining or nearby properties and give them a copy of the notice issued.


Example three: An unoccupied warehouse building in Lyall Bay appears to have water damage. Locals are complaining about the appearance of the building and believe it to be insanitary.

What would Council do ?

If the Council received a complaint, the Council could complete a visual assessment of the site and speak to the property owner. The Council can also request reports from the property owner if warranted. However, if the building is unoccupied and is safely isolated from the public and not causing a public health issue, it is unlikely to be considered insanitary.

If there were concerns that people were unlawfully occupying or vandalising the property, the matter would be referred to the Police.

What would it mean for the property-owner?

The property owner would need to respond to the Council’s request for information.

What would it mean for neighbouring properties?

If derelict and unsightly buildings on private property comply with the Building Act, Council does not not have legislative authority to intervene.

[1] Building Act 2004

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