Earthquake Prone Buildings (Update)

Further to our prior blog on “Earthquake Prone Buildings” in 2014, the government have now passed legislation giving force to the proposals. The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016 came into force on Saturday, 1 July 2017.

Territorial Authorities (your Councils) now have reduced timeframes to identify Earthquake Prone Buildings (“EPB”) for priority buildings. The owners of these priority buildings will also have shorter timeframes to comply and strengthen their EPBs. For instance, owners of priority EPBs in high-risk areas (including areas such as Christchurch and Wellington) will now have 7.5 years to strengthen their EPB as opposed to 15 years for other non-priority EPB in the same high-risk areas. Owners of priority EPB in medium-risk areas will have 12.5 years to strengthen their buildings while non-priority EPB in the same medium-risk areas will have 25 years. Owners of EPBs in low risk areas will have 35 years to strengthen their buildings.

Owners should be careful as a Territorial Authority (Hutt City Council) has for the first time prosecuted an owner for failing to comply with strengthening works within the set timeframe. This was the first prosecution under the Act which can carry a maximum fine of up to $200,000. It is not expected to be the last prosecution so owners should be aware of their requirements, including their rights to obtain a seismic assessment within 12 months of the Territorial Authority deeming their building to be an EPB.

For further queries or legal advice regarding your building, please contact the team at Queen City Law.

To read more about the author Tina Hwang click here.

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