Occupancy certificates for unsafe buildings are set to be blocked following the passing of new laws in New South Wales.

The Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Bill 2020 has been passed with only one minor amendment.

It enables the Building Commissioner to stop an occupation certificate from being issued in cases where serious defects are present, if the building bond required under the Strata Scheme Management Act 2015 has not been paid or if the developer has not given adequate notices of a proposed application for an occupancy certificate.

The Commissioner will also be able to order developers to rectify defective buildings and to issue stop work orders where construction is being carried out in a way which is likely to jeopardise safety or cause loss to future building occupants.

As well as new buildings, the powers will apply to existing buildings which have been constructed in the past ten years.

The Bill follows the passing into law of the Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019, which establishes a registration scheme for designers and builders and requires that designs for certain types of building work be certified for compliance with building regulations by registered design practitioners.

These moves follow ongoing concern about building quality both in New South Wales and throughout Australia amid structural defects at the Opal and Mascot Towers along with the cladding of thousands of buildings in flammable material.

NSW Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson said the Bill will arm the Building Commissioner with a suite of powers to ensure buildings are constructed to a high standard, with robust offences and heavy fines for those doing the wrong thing.

“The Building Commissioner is now equipped with the power to prevent occupation certificates or strata plan registrations before defective buildings can enter the market,” Anderson said.

“This means we now have a clear pathway to lift the standards of construction and prevent consumers from purchasing a property riddled with problems down the track.”