Reporting on derelict buildings

1. Overview

Council oversees and manages derelict buildings in its municipal district. This forms part of its responsibility for the administration and enforcement of the Building Act 1993 and the Building Regulations 2018 pursuant to section 212 of the Building Act 1993.

What is a derelict building?

A derelict building is a building that has been:

  • poorly maintained or neglected and has fallen into a state of disrepair; or
  • damaged by a storm event, fire, or other incident (e.g. a vehicle crashing into the building); or
  • left in a state of partial construction for an extended period of time.

    A derelict building may also be building that has not been maintained over a long period of time causing to be ‘run-down’ or ‘dilapidated’.  

2. MBS may require action or work to be carried out to derelict buildings

Where a derelict building is identified, the Council’s Municipal Building Surveyor (MBS) may require the owner to take action or carry out work to address safety concerns via a building notice and building order enforcement process.

If the derelict building is intended to be habitable but has become unfit for occupation, a building order may require the building to be vacated and prevented from use.

In some cases, the derelict building may need to be demolished whereas in other instances, it may be sufficient to require ‘make safe’ work only, being work to ensure the building is safe or secured from access. This may include securing loose roof sheeting, propping a wall, demolishing a damaged section of the building, boarding up openings, and/or the erection of fencing to prevent access to the building.

Whether ‘make safe’ work is feasible and appropriate will depend on all the circumstances including:

  • the extent of the damage or dereliction of the building (i.e. there may only be one section that requires repair, or alternatively the entire building may require work to ensure it is safe for use); and
  • the resources required to carry out the work compared to those required to demolish the building.

In addition to ‘make safe’ works other protection measures may also be necessary, such as road or footpath protection to prevent the public from using areas in close proximity to the derelict building. This may be arranged by Council where it involves footpaths or other areas that Council has powers to manage.

It is critical for the MBS to take action necessary to mitigate the risk to the any users or occupants of the building or land together with the general public.

3. Failure to comply with building order or emergency order

If an owner fails to carry out work required by an emergency order or building order, the MBS will take further action to mitigate the risk.

In all instances, the MBS will write to the owner to advise them of the contravention. This letter will clearly put the owner on notice of the issue and that further action may be taken if the work is not completed.

If the work remains outstanding, the MBS may:

  • cause the outstanding work required by the emergency order or building order to be carried out by contractors or registered building practitioners. If this occurs Council may seek to recover the costs from the owner of the building; and/or
  • recommend Council bring a prosecution against the owner in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria for the offence of failing to comply with the building order or emergency order. Such proceeding may also include asking the Court to make orders requiring the owner to act.

4. Emergency responses

In the event of an emergency incident involving a building or land the MBS may be contacted by Victoria Police or other emergency service agencies to assist.

The Council:

  • will send the MBS or another officer to attend the property in person and carry out an inspection to form a view about whether an emergency order or other action is necessary;
  • if required, the MBS will issue an emergency order; and
  • will cooperate with emergency services personnel.

Emergency services officers may direct immediate ‘make safe’ work be undertaken.

5. Register of derelict buildings

Council maintains a Register of Derelict Buildings to monitor and prioritise its actions to address risks. Decisions about taking action are risk based with derelict buildings considered high risk prioritised for demolition.

You can contact Council’s building department via on (03) 5398 0110.