New Regulations for NSW Developers: Obligations and Compliance
The Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Act 2020 (NSW) is effective from 1st September 2020 and applies to incomplete residential apartment buildings as well as buildings completed within the past 10 years.
Obligations on Developers
Under the new legislation, developers must now advise the Secretary of the NSW Department of Customer Service of when a building work is expected to complete. They must also provide an Expected Completion Notice at least six months but not more than 12 months prior to applying for an Occupation Certificate, according to Section 7 of the Act. Section 8, however, gives developers some flexibility for making amendments to the Expected Completion Notice, subject to certain conditions - for example, an amendment must be made within seven days of the developer becoming aware of the change in circumstances affecting the original completion date.
Powers of the Secretary and Authorised Officers
The Act grants the Secretary and authorised officers far-reaching prerogatives including the power to:
Prohibit issuance of Occupation Certificate and registration of strata plan if there is a serious defect found in a building which may cause the structure to be uninhabitable or at risk of destruction and collapse;
Investigate matters and enforce the new regulations, as well as compel relevant persons to provide any information or documentation - a failure to comply with authorised officers will incur significant penalties (Part 3);
Issue a "stop work order" if the Secretary believes that building works are, or likely to be, carried out in a manner which may cause harm or loss to stakeholders (Section 29) - developers may appeal the order to the Land and Environment Court within 30 days of the order (Section 30);
Issue a 'Building Work Rectification Order' if the Secretary has reasonable belief that the building works are carried out in a manner which may cause serious defects.
It is important to note that according to Section 58, the directors of a company may be personally liable if they knowingly authorised or permitted any contravention of the regulations.