Below is a message from the Property Law Section of the NZ Law Society about building consents of the Christchurch City Council.
Building consents issued by Christchurch City Council
As you know, the Section wrote to Ministers Brownlee and Williamson raising concerns around the issue of building consents in Christchurch. International Accreditation New Zealand revoked Christchurch City Council’s building consent accreditation in July following the Council’s inability to meet the required standard for processes. The Section was concerned by the Council’s lack of accreditation and the effect this could have on the consents issued by the Council. Under the Building Act 2004, loss of accredited status does not automatically revoke a Council’s registration as a building consent authority and as a result, Christchurch City Council has continued to issue building consents.
The Section received a response from Minister Williamson and subsequently met with officials from MBIE. Minister Williamson acknowledged the Council’s breach of the statutory duty to maintain its accredited status but both he and the Ministry consider that this has no effect on the legality or validity of the consents issued by the Council.
However, the Property Law Section continues to have reservations about this approach. Therefore, the Executive Committee recommends that members should consider modifying their solicitor’s certificates to note any relevant consents issued by Christchurch City Council during the period it remains unaccredited. This is important if a vendor is pursued for breach of warranty and also in terms of your advice to a mortgagee to avoid a situation where a bank may consider that it was not properly advised when issuing a loan. Members should also discuss the matter with clients to make them aware of these potential consequences, and the warranties they might give or receive.
The Property Law Section has no knowledge of how banks or the courts might treat such a claim. Further, the Section has not sought a public law opinion on the consequences of a breach of a statutory duty (as none is provided in the Act). However, the Section considers disclosure of the unaccredited status of Christchurch City Council to be current best practice.
The Section will continue to monitor this matter but if you have any questions in the meantime, please email email@example.com.