In a bid to boost community confidence, the NSW Government has introduced a new legislation that aims to tackle ongoing issues with the building of residential apartments. The Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Act 2020 (RAB Act) that will come into effect on 1 September 2020 will grant the Secretary of the NSW Department of Customer Service authority to oversee and enforce compliance in the building process before an Occupation Certificate is issued.
The legislation requires an Expected Completion Notice to be submitted by the developer in accordance with the construction period:
- For less than 6 months; at least 30 days prior to commencement of work.
- For more than 6 months; at least 6-12 months prior to application for Occupation Certificate.
Powers of the Secretary
Under the RAB Act, the NSW Department of Customer Service can:
- Order information and records from relevant persons, including persons suspected of having knowledge of important information;
- Enter a premises without a search warrant unless the premises is solely used for residential purposes; and
- Direct a developer to rectify or carry out building work that will prevent a “serious defect” within specified time and manner. A serious defect includes defects resulting from non-compliance to building legislation, use of prohibited building supplies, and defects that may prevent occupation or use of building for its intended purpose.
The Secretary can delay the issue of an Occupation Certificate through a prohibition order if any serious defects are not rectified or if sufficient notice for the application isn’t provided. Until lifted, this will stop residents from taking possession of their apartments.
What does this mean for Developers?
If developers are not stringent in their building processes, the RAB Act may heighten the barrier to obtaining an Occupation Certificate. To avoid delays in settlement, it is crucial for developers to ensure Expected Completion Notices are provided on time and that any resulting inspections and rectification orders are respectively prepared for or remedied accordingly.
For any Occupation Certificate applications that are made within 6 months from the commencement of the legislation (up until 1 March 2021), an Expected Completion Notice must be given to the Secretary by 14 September 2020.