The Government has introduced the Building (Earthquake-prone
Buildings) Amendment Bill into Parliament to revise the legal
framework for managing earthquake prone buildings.
The objective of the Bill is to set a national guideline for all
local councils in New Zealand in terms of how to balance between
protecting people from harm in an earthquake and managing the cost
of strengthening or removing earthquake-prone buildings. Currently,
local councils can decide how passive or active it manages
earthquake-prone buildings within its district.
Under the Bill, it will become a mandatory requirement for all
local councils to undertake a seismic capacity assessment of all
existing non-residential buildings and multi-storey and multi-unit
residential buildings in their districts within five years from the
commencement date the Bill comes into force.
Within the prescribed time period of five years of the local
council assessing all earthquake-prone buildings within its
district, the Council must give a building owner a written notice
of the outcome of the assessment completed on the building ("the
outcome notice"). The outcome notice must state whether the
building is earthquake prone.
If the building is determined to be earthquake prone, then the
building will require strengthening work or alternatively the owner
of the building will need to demolish it. The deadline to complete
the strengthening work or demolition of the building is 15 years
from the date of the outcome notice. Owners of a heritage building
may apply for an extension of time as well as a building owner may
apply for an exemption under the Act for a building which imposes
low risk of harm to the public.
Once an outcome notice has been issued by the local council, the
council must within 20 working days after the date of the outcome
notice do the following:
a. Issue a seismic work notice stating that the building is
earthquake-prone and attach it to the building for public view;
b. Record on the national seismic capacity register the outcome
of the seismic capacity assessment.
The local council is further required to send a copy of the
seismic work notice to the occupiers of the building and any person
who has an interest in the land, such as a mortgagee. This notice
cannot be removed from the building until the building is assessed
as no longer being earthquake-prone by the council. It will be an
offence up to $20,000.00 not to attach the notice to the
If a building owner is issued an outcome notice, the work
required to strengthen the building may require alterations to be
made to the building. Any alterations to the building will require
a building consent and such works must comply with the current
Building Code. In addition, should there be a change of the
building use, a building consent will also be required.
The significance of this Bill is that it shall impact all
commercial property owners including office, accommodation, retail,
farm and industrial buildings, residential apartments and units
that are two or more storeys high and contain three or more units,
and structures such as bridges, statues and memorials.
Every owner who fails to complete their strengthening works or
demolition of the building by the statutory deadline (being 15
years from the date of the outcome notice) commits an offence and
will be potentially liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding
We recommend that all property owners should begin planning in
terms of whether this Bill will affect you and how you plan to meet
your statutory obligations when it comes into force.
For further information, please contact Alister
Moran on (07) 928 2003.