Frequently asked questions for apartment and building owners

It is not the Government’s intention to make information collected on the portal public. Information about registered buildings will be made available to councils and certain State Government agencies. It is important to note that the list is not a list of high-risk buildings but rather buildings that may require further investigation by local authorities.

 

The information was provided to the NSW Government Cladding Taskforce under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Identification of Buildings with External Combustible Cladding) Regulation 2018.

 

The information is part of the Taskforce’s ongoing work on identifying buildings that may have combustible cladding which included Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) visiting and inspecting over 2,000 sites prior to the introduction of the Cladding Regulation. Work is ongoing with local councils and, where relevant, specific State Government agencies, to determine what action, if any, is necessary regarding any identified buildings.

 

It is also important to remember that the presence of combustible cladding on a building does not mean it is a fire safety risk. Fire safety risks depend on the amount of combustible cladding and its configuration, as well as the fire safety provisions within the building.

As a prospective property buyer you have rights to information about a property. This information may include details of whether the property has external combustible cladding or whether an assessment report has been commissioned to determine the nature of the building’s cladding. Different sources of information include:

  • Asking the strata managing agent and real estate agent about the history of the building and the outcomes of any assessments of the building
  • Meeting minutes of the strata committee and owners’ corporation and other records kept by the owners’ corporation. This can be done by paying the prescribed fee to inspect the strata records so that you can ascertain whether any investigations or compliance action has been initiated and how they were resolved.
  • Asking the council whether there are any outstanding compliance or fire safety orders relating to the building. This can include requesting a certificate of outstanding notices. The council is required to issue such a certificate which will include any action proposed to be taken by the council in relation to any outstanding notices and orders issued by council in relation to the property.
  • Commissioning your own building inspection report.

Additional advice is available at:

www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/housing-and-property/buying-and-selling-property/buying-a-property

www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/housing-and-property/buying-and-selling-property/buying-a-property/buying-into-a-strata-scheme

Yes, you still need to register.

The Regulation applies to residential apartment buildings, other types of residential buildings where people sleep and public buildings, all of two storeys or higher, with external combustible cladding. However, a building could contain more than one use including some that are not covered by the Regulation.

For example, a building could contain different parts such as residential units (Class 2), a hotel (Class 3), shops/cafes at ground level (Class 6) and a basement carpark (Class 7). Similarly, a building such as a shopping centre could have shops (Class 6), offices (Class 5), a gym (Class 9b) and a childcare centre (Class 9b).

Where a building with external combustible cladding is made up of different uses and contains a Class 2, 3 or 9 use, then the owner must register the building no matter how small or how far away from the cladding the Class 2, 3 or 9 part is located.

If you are unsure about the class, or would like further information about your building, please contact your local council. 

Yes.

A separate online form needs to be completed for each building. However, the following features will make it easy for you to register more than one building:

  • You can register all the buildings using one log in account.
  • You can add another building by selecting ‘Register your building’ from your dashboard page.
  • You can save each draft form and submit each finalised form at different times, although a form will be cancelled within 30 days of its creation if it hasn’t been submitted.
  • You can log back into the system to check which buildings you have registered and send this information to the relevant owners’ corporation.

The tragic fire at the Greenfell Tower in London in 2017 and the Lacrosse Building fire in Melbourne in 2014 have highlighted public safety risks posed by inappropriate use of certain combustible products on the external areas of buildings.

To address the problem, the NSW Government developed a 10-point action plan that included the creation of a Cladding Taskforce, led by the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation, and including Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) and the Department of Planning and Environment.

A priority of the Taskforce is the identification of buildings with combustible cladding to ensure affected buildings are safe. This is being undertaken in collaboration with building owners and occupants, industry and councils.

As a Taskforce member, FRNSW has visited and inspected over 2,000 sites identified by local councils, visual observations by FRNSW officers, and an analysis of development approvals by the Department of Planning and Environment.

Another initiative under the 10-point plan is the implementation of a new law in the form of an amendment to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (the Cladding Regulation). The new regulation introduces a requirement for owners of certain residential and public buildings to register their building on a NSW Government portal. For registration purposes, owners don’t have to be certain about the level of combustibility of the cladding on their building.

The identification of these buildings will enable FRNSW to educate the occupants about fire prevention, and to respond appropriately in the event of a fire. Registration also assists councils in their role as building control authorities to determine what further actions (if any) are necessary.

It is important to note that the presence of external combustible cladding on a building does not necessarily mean it is a fire hazard.

In addition, a product use ban on certain types of combustible cladding was recently issued by the Commissioner for Fair Trading. The product use ban is primarily aimed at preventing the use of specific cladding products on buildings in the future. More information regarding the Building Products (Safety) Act 2017 and the product use ban is available from the NSW Fair Trading website.

If you own one of the following types of buildings, two storeys or higher, that has external combustible cladding,

the new regulation applies to your building:

  • Residential apartment buildings.
  • Other types of residential buildings where people sleep, for example, hotels, boarding houses, backpackers, student accommodation.
  • Aged-care buildings, hospitals, day surgeries and public assembly buildings, such as theatres, cinemas, schools and churches. The regulation also applies to a single dwelling within one of these buildings, for example, a caretaker’s residence inside an aged-care facility or school.

This regulation does not currently apply to offices, shops, warehouses, carparks, factories and other commercial buildings although they may be included at a later stage. The regulation also does not apply to houses.

The new regulation applies to buildings that have the following types of external combustible cladding on any external walls or other external areas of the building:

  • Metal composite panels including products that use aluminium, zinc or copper outer layers and a core material, or
  • Insulated cladding systems including systems comprised of polystyrene, polyurethane and polyisocyanurate.

If you are an owner of one of the above types of buildings with the relevant type of cladding you must register the building on the NSW Government portal between 22 October 2018 and 22 February 2019.

The new regulation also applies to buildings even if they have:

  • a development consent
  • a complying development certificate
  • a construction certificate
  • an occupation certificate
  • an annual fire safety statement
  • a cladding assessment
  • a fire safety order
  • a letter from the NSW Cladding Taskforce about the building
  • notification of a product use ban issued by the Commissioner of Fair Trading.

It also applies to government authorities who own buildings within the scope of the regulation.

The cladding regulation requires you to register your existing building on a NSW Government portal between 22 October 2018 and 22 February 2019. For new buildings (those that have not yet been occupied when the regulation commences), the deadline for registration will be four months after the building is first occupied. 

  • Note that emailed registrations are not permitted and will not be processed.
  • Only owners or their nominated representatives can register their buildings.
  • Owners in apartment buildings should decide who will register at an owners' corporation meeting. 
  • Only one registration per building is allowed 
  • Strata managers may be able to register for you, depending on your agreement with them.

You don’t have to engage an expert to register the building. The portal will take you through a simple registration process.

You will need to provide basic information such as:

  • the type of external combustible cladding (metal composite panels or insulated cladding system)
  • the address of the building
  • name and address of the owner/owners’ corporation representative
  • the building use (for example: residential, school, hospital)
  • number of storeys
  • the approximate percentage of cladding
  • the parts of the building to which cladding is applied.

While every effort should be made to be accurate during the registration process, this information can be corrected later, if necessary. If you are unsure about the cladding it is better to register the building.

Failure to register may incur fines of $1500 for individuals and $3000 for corporations.

The ban and the regulation are complementary. The Department of Finance, Services and Innovation and the Department of Planning and Environment have worked collaboratively to develop these reforms. The purpose of the cladding regulation is to identify new and existing buildings that may contain a range of combustible cladding products that could be a fire safety risk, and which may need further assessment.

The product use ban is primarily aimed at preventing the use of specific cladding products on buildings in the future. More information about the Building Products (Safety) Act 2017 and the product use ban is available from the NSW Fair Trading website.

No. Building owners must still register their buildings even if it is subject to a fire safety order.

Only building owners or their representatives can register a building. If tenants are concerned about whether their building has combustible cladding, or their building owner’s response to these requirements, they should seek further information from their landlord or managing agent.

The details of the building will be provided to FRNSW and the local council. It is possible that your council or FRNSW may contact you about your building after you register.

Frequently asked questions for Councils

Councils have an important role to play to support the implementation of the new cladding regulation. To support the role of councils the Government, through the Cladding Taskforce, will provide councils with information from the registration process.

This information will supplement council’s own records and will include general information about the individual building such as the number of storeys, a description of the cladding and its location on the building. Access to the information will make it easier for councils to determine whether to use their compliance and enforcement powers as the primary building control authority.

Councils can then decide on their next steps. For instance, councils can undertake further investigations, which could lead to issuing fire safety orders for remedial action to address any risks associated with the cladding. The registration information should also help councils to determine which buildings to prioritise.

Councils have broad existing powers for compliance and enforcement under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) also has enforcement powers, however, these powers are limited compared with council powers. The Department of Planning and Environment also has enforcement powers, but these relate only to development consents issued by or on behalf of the Minister for Planning.

The regulation puts new requirements on building owners to register their buildings through an online portal. Additional compliance and enforcement powers are provided to ensure this occurs.

Under the new regulation, councils and FRNSW will have additional powers and responsibilities to:

• Direct owners to register their building if they have identified a building with external combustible cladding that is not registered. Such a direction may require registration earlier than the prescribed time frame in the regulation.

• Notify the Department of Planning and Environment if they issue a direction. A simple online process for these notifications will be developed. Further information on this will be provided in the coming months.

• Issue penalties of up to $1500 for individuals or $3000 for corporations if they fail to register their building. Further penalties can be issued if building owners or corporations fail to respond to directions. These are $3000 and $6000 respectively.

Where it is necessary to undertake rectification works associated with external combustible cladding, there are several pathways that could be considered. For example, councils have discretion on whether to issue fire safety orders and can determine the terms that are appropriate to form part of any order. This allows flexibility for specific circumstances on a case-by-case basis. Rectification works could also be undertaken via the development approval process.

The ban and the regulation are complementary. The Department of Finance, Services and Innovation and the Department of Planning and Environment have worked collaboratively to develop these reforms. The purpose of the cladding regulation is to identify new (those that are not occupied when the regulation commences) and existing buildings that may contain a range of combustible cladding products that could be a fire safety risk, and which may need further assessment.

The product use ban is primarily aimed at preventing the use of specific cladding products on buildings in the future. More information regarding the Building Products (Safety) Act 2017 and the product use ban is available from the NSW Fair Trading website.

The NSW Cladding Taskforce is an interagency group chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation and includes agencies such as the Department of Planning and Environment, FRNSW and the Office of Local Government.

The Taskforce is a forum that allows the agencies to coordinate their actions including the use of their statutory functions. Generally, the actions of its member agencies in relation to councils are coordinated through the Taskforce.

The new regulation requires owners to register existing buildings on a NSW Government portal between 22 October 2018 and 22 February 2019. For new buildings, the deadline for registration will be four months after the building is first occupied.

 

Owners will register their buildings on an online NSW Government system. Options are being developed to regularly transmit this information to councils and FRNSW.  The intention is to provide frequent information to councils rather than wait until the end of the registration period.

No. Building owners must still register their building even if it is subject to a fire safety order.

The NSW Government will launch a public awareness campaign before registrations are due.

The Government, through the Taskforce, has worked to raise public awareness of the cladding issue before making this regulation. The Government also wrote directly to more than 5,000 building owners, and managers of buildings, identified in an audit, to provide information about the actions they should take to ensure the safety of their building.

 

The draft regulation exhibited last year contained a proposal to require building owners to engage a properly qualified person to undertake an inspection and technical assessment of registered buildings. It was proposed that the owner would then rely on this assessment to complete a cladding statement about the fire risk of the cladding and any actions necessary to address the risk.

Since then, there has been a tightening in the professional indemnity insurance market, which has the potential to affect the availability of experts to carry out the work. To help deal with issues around the supply of experts, mandatory assessments have been removed from the regulation. These may be considered at a later stage.

The insurance challenges faced by the industry are complex and the Government is in active discussions with insurers on the matter. However, this will not impact the requirement for buildings to be registered. The registration process will proceed and will assist authorities to undertake necessary actions to help mitigate risks posed by the presence of external combustible cladding.

The new regulation applies to:

Class 2

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Line diagram of buildings two storeys or higher
Apartment buildings two storeys or higher

Class 3

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Line diagram of other accommodation buildings, for unrelated people, two storeys or higher
Other accommodation buildings where people sleep, two storeys or higher.

 

Examples include: hotels, motels, boarding houses, backpackers, residential parts of schools or accommodation buildings for children, the elderly or people with a disability. 

Class 9*

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Class 9
Buildings two storeys or higher that are:

Aged-care buildings, health-care buildings, hospitals, and day surgeries.  Public assembly buildings where people gather for social, theatrical, political, religious or civil purposes.

Examples include schools, universities, childcare centres, sporting facilities, cinemas, night clubs, public transport buildings.

*Class 9 includes any 'Class 4' part which is a dwelling in any Class 9 building 

It does not apply to :

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Class 1 and 10

Houses and non-habitable buildings or structures.

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Classes 5,6,7 and 8

Offices, shops, factories, warehouses, carparks, commercial buildings.

(Note: these buildings may be included later).