Emergency Management Proposals under the Building Act

The Building Act 2004 provides powers to manage buildings which are deemed dangerous or insanitary. A dangerous building is defined (in part) in the Building Act if: ‘in the ordinary course of events (excluding the occurrence of an earthquake), the building is likely to cause-

  • Injury or death (whether by collapse or otherwise) to any person in it or to persons on other property; or
  • Damage to other property.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is seeking feedback on proposals to manage unsafe buildings and life-safety risks during and after a state of emergency. These proposals are in response to recommendations from the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission and Ministry analysis on post-disaster building management. The proposals are intended to:

  • Minimise injury or death caused by buildings after states of emergency.
  • Provide a more orderly transition from states of emergency where the scale of building damage and building risk is significant.
  • Manage unsafe buildings in situations when resources may be strained and there may be significant risk of subsequent extraordinary events.
  • Minimise cost of disruption to the services delivered by buildings posing danger and nearby properties.
  • Provide greater clarity in the process of managing unusable buildings after a state of emergency.

Proposed changes include:

  • Allowing local councils to take action where a damaged building requires immediate repair or demolition but is not deemed dangerous under section 121 of the Building Act or earthquake prone under section 122.
  • Enabling protected heritage buildings to be demolished without consent where this is needed to protect against injury or death.
  • Enabling territorial authorities to recover the costs of maintaining cordons around dangerous sites from the building owner after three months.

Submissions close on 24 July 2015.

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