The Hills Shire Council calls for stronger laws for private certifiers

Mayor Yvonne Keane
Mayor Yvonne Keane

Mayor of The Hills Shire, Councillor Yvonne Keane is calling on the State Government to review the Building Professionals Board and its code of conduct for private certifiers, after a serious case in Castle Hill put residents’ lives at risk.

An inspection by Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) on a unit complex on Garthowen Crescent revealed numerous fire safety deficiencies within the building including an insufficient fire hydrant booster assembly, lack of fire hose reels and an unsatisfactory evacuation route from the building during an emergency.

“There have been numerous instances where Council has been forced to act as a result of errors made by private certifiers. It is particularly alarming when the issues relate to multi-million dollar developments, jeopardising the safety of the occupants of the premises,” Mayor Keane said.

“Council has consistently argued against the use of private certifiers because they remove the independence from the building inspection/certifying process.

“Council has seen some very bad examples, including the Garthowen Crescent apartment complex, and as a result we’ve had to report these unaccountable private certifiers to the Building Professionals Board for further investigation and action.

“I want to see higher penalties for those who fail to inspect a property and sign off on substandard work.

“Another way to prevent building issues is to allow local Councils to have a greater role in auditing certifiers – both their work and their behaviour – rather than leave it to the Board which is often slow to investigate a complaint or reluctant to act against breaches,” Mayor Keane added.

Council will now write to the Minister for Planning, Anthony Roberts MP and the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Matt Kean MP requesting investigations be conducted into the standard of certification of apartment buildings and the actions of the Building Professionals Board in relation to apartment buildings errors being passed on as acceptable by private certifiers.