Unauthorised building work and uses

It is an offence under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 to carry out development, such as building work or a change of building use, without obtaining the appropriate form of approval beforehand. The only exception to this requirement is if the specific work or use is classified as exempt development under an Environmental Planning Instrument, such as State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008.

Illegal building work or building use

Before doing any building work or renovations, owners and building contractors must have the necessary approvals and certification, and ensure that all conditions and requirements have been met.

Failure to obtain the relevant planning and building approvals or certificates is an offence, as is the carrying out of work not in accordance with an approval. These offences are taken very seriously by Council, as they undermine the integrity of the approvals process, result in sub-standard construction and may have a detrimental impact upon the safety and amenity of the occupants, nearby residents and the local area. Where evidence of unlawful activity is identified, our response may result in significant monetary penalties (’on-the-spot’ fines) being imposed and/or the commencement of legal action by us.

Details of our regulatory and enforcement actions, considerations and processes may be found in our Compliance and Enforcement Policy.   This Policy, and the associated enforcement protocols, helps us to carry out our regulatory activities in a consistent, transparent and appropriate manner, having due regard to the nature, extent, impact and severity of any breach or offence.

Enquiries or complaints about illegal building work or unlawful use of a premises may be made directly to Council, via email to council@blacktown.nsw.gov.au or to Council’s Information Centre on 9839 6000.  Council strongly recommends however that all complaints be provided in writing or email and include full details of the alleged illegal building work or use of premises, as well as the impacts on their property or amenity.

Non-compliance with development consent or complying development certificate 

Enquires or complaints relating to non-compliance with a development consent or complying development certificate should be made directly to the appointed Registered Principal Certifier for the development.  This may be a private-sector accredited certifier or the Council.  Details of the appointed certifier are required to be provided on signage at the front of a building site. Should this information not be provided however, the contact details may be obtained from Council on 9839 6000.

When a private certifier is appointed, they take responsibility for the development site. Private certifiers have statutory responsibilities and authority under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) in the same way that Council officers do.

The certifier is required to carry out inspections of the development at specified stages, to check compliance with the relevant approvals and certificates, and to issue an occupation certificate upon completion. In doing so, the certifier has the authority to advise the builder and/or owner to remedy a particular matter or non-compliance, and respond to complaints from the public about the development.  

Where a complaint is received by us about a privately certified project, we will contact the certifier in the first instance on the complainant’s behalf and advise them of the nature of the complaint. If the complainant is happy for us to do so, we will also provide their contact details to the certifier to allow them to correspond.

If the matter is not resolved by the certifier within a reasonable period, and there remains a breach of the development consent or complying development certificate, the matter may be referred to Council for further investigation.

The Council is not however the regulator of private certifiers. Any complaints about the conduct, actions or lack of action by a private certifier must be directed to the NSW Department of Fair Trading