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2009: Background to the moratorium
In April 2009, a moratorium on building enforcement was declared.
The moratorium suspended any enforcement of the Building Act on existing building works with incomplete or no certification, subject to there not being serious health or safety issues.
The purpose of the moratorium was to encourage existing building owners to achieve compliance.
At the time of the moratorium’s announcement, about 36,000 building permits did not have a corresponding occupancy permit. An examination of sample files showed that there could be half of this number that:
- had building permits that did not proceed to building works
- did proceed to building works that have since been demolished or overtaken by renovation works that have a new permit
- or did proceed to building works and the works were generally in order but the documentation was never completed.
The remaining half of the outstanding building permits were the more challenging, relating to buildings that required technical investigation and/or rectification work. In addition, there are anecdotally many unauthorised building works - never subject to a building permit even though one was required under the Building Act.
Given the level of incomplete certification there was a need to review the regulation regime to ensure it was appropriate and relevant for the circumstances in the Northern Territory.
There also needed to be a viable certification path for owners of existing buildings that are assessed as reasonably safe for occupation, whilst retaining the integrity of the building regulation regime through appropriate deterrence to prevent further non-compliances.