Time to “tidy up” your dangerous, insanitary and affected building policy?

At the start of a new year I – like many people – have become hooked on Netflix’s cult new show about the art of decluttering.

If you haven’t seen “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” yet, be prepared to fold tea towels like you never knew you could.

These tidy up principles don’t just apply at home.  Council officers around the country are right now considering their dangerous, insanitary and affected building policies and asking: “Is ours up to date?”

With the window for adopting an “affected buildings” policy having now closed, we have received a number of calls in recent months from councils about what this all means and how to achieve compliance.

Now is a perfect time to make sure your policies are valid and, most importantly, user friendly.  A policy that is out of date, unwieldy and scary to look at is as bad as having no policy at all.

Maybe it’s time for a bit of a tidy up?

Councils’ obligations in a nutshell

Councils must adopt a policy on dangerous and insanitary buildings within their district.  That policy may be amended or replaced only in accordance with the special consultative procedure in section 83 of the Local Government Act 2002 (LGA).

In 2013, the Building Amendment Act 2013 added a requirement to include affected buildings within a reasonable period following the next review.  As this involves amending or replacing the existing policy, the special consultative procedure is required.

Three years later, a 2016 amendment to the Building Act made councils again look at their policies to remove any reference to earthquake-prone buildings.  The law said that if the amendments did not materially affect an existing policy, then the special consultative procedure in section 83 of the LGA didn’t need to be followed.

Removing any reference to earthquake prone buildings from a policy can be done without materially affecting it.  Highlight, delete and you’re done.  But, adding affected buildings is a different kettle of fish.  It requires some thought and a more robust process.

What it all means for you

Five years on, some councils have found themselves without a valid policy and uncertain about whether or not a special consultative procedure is needed.  The procedure isn’t as scary as it sounds – unlike that wardrobe of yours housing 20 years of regrettable purchases.

All that a council needs to do is:

  • Draft a statement of proposal that outlines the background to the proposal, purposes of the amended policy and a copy of the draft new policy.
  • Draft a brief public notice inviting public (written) submissions on the amended policy (we expect you would be unlikely to receive any). Councils generally leave a period of one month open for submissions to be made.
  • Hold a strategic planning and policy committee meeting where oral submissions can be made by those who have submitted written submissions if they wish.
  • Adopt the policy.

Having been through this exercise with a few councils now, we are well placed to ensure that policies remain up-to-date, user friendly and fit for purpose.

If it’s time for a tidy up of your policies, give them the KonMari treatment (Google it).


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