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Buildings with combustible cladding liable for fines

Owners of Queensland buildings with combustible cladding could now be liable for a hefty fine should their buildings be deemed unsafe.

Time has run out for building owners to complete the process established by the Queensland state government’s Safer Buildings Taskforce to eliminate risk of catastrophic building fires caused by combustible cladding.

The Safer Buildings Program has cleared more than 17,000 buildings of potentially combustible cladding since 2018. The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) says the building owners who have not completed the process are now liable for fines.

“Everyone has a right to feel safe in the buildings they live or work in and it’s good to see that 90 per cent of those buildings have completed the process to give those assurances,” says QBCC Commissioner Brett Bassett.

“The regulations are all about uncovering those potentially unsafe buildings, so that Queensland can avoid a tragedy like the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 71 people, or the several near misses here in Australia, like the Lacrosse fire in Melbourne, which caused $12.7 million in damage.”

Under the legislation introduced to compel rectification of dangerous buildings, owners of buildings who have not completed the process (the deadline passed on May 3) face a fine of up to $22,019.25.

“Only after all the buildings have been through the Safer Buildings Program will we have a clear picture of how many buildings are a cladding fire risk and what is required to ensure building owners rectify them,” Bassett says.

“While the appropriate regulatory action will be determined on a case-by-case basis, there are strict penalties under the regulation for those found to have broken the law, including fines of more than $22,000.

“The state government established significant resources and guidance for building owners, including guidance to avoid price gouging by building practitioners, so it is difficult to see what legitimate reason there would be for not completing the process after two years.

“Above any penalty set out in the regulation is the moral and common law onus on a building owner to ensure the building is safe for its occupants.”

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