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Significant fine for unsafe boarding house

Significant fine for unsafe boarding house

Auckland District Court has convicted and fined Mr Colin Marks, owner of a boarding house at 286 Jervois Road, $11060.00, plus court costs, relating to charges under the Building Act 1991 for failing to have a current Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF).

Mr Marks faced two charges at the court hearing last Friday: Failing to comply with a Notice to Rectify to bring the property up to the required standards of the Building Compliance Schedule for fire safety purposes, and produce a current BWOF. For this he was fined $5,000.00, plus $10.00 per day for the ongoing nature of the offence. Judge Gittos calculated the ongoing offence at 556 days, resulting in an additional $5,560.00 Failing to display a current BWOF. For this he was fined $500.00.

“The successful prosecution by Auckland City Council for breach of the Building Act safety regulations is a stern warning to all commercial property owners,” says Barry Smedts, manager compliance monitoring. “It reinforces the legal obligation of owners to ensure a current Warrant of Fitness is held and adhered to for all commercial buildings and/or places of public assembly.”

“This fine should act as a strong deterrent for all owners of commercial property such as night clubs and bars, boarding houses, restaurants and office buildings,” says Mr Smedts. Under the Building Act (1991) a building is considered unsafe if it does not have a current BWOF. The Act requires owners to renew their warrant annually to indicate that all inspection and maintenance requirements are being met. The BWOF covers building features such as automatic sprinklers and emergency lighting systems, lifts, air conditioning, fire hose reels and fire escapes.

A current building warrant of fitness is required to be publicly displayed in a location in the building to which users of the building have ready access.

The council endeavours to communicate with building owners and help them comply with the Act’s legislative requirements wherever possible. Prosecution is always a last resort, but court action is initiated when property owners threaten public safety through non-compliance.

“The council hopes that this prosecution will serve as a warning to others that safety breaches are taken very seriously by both the council and the court,” says Mr Smedts. “It’s encouraging to see the courts backing our efforts to ensure people are safe in public buildings.”

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