Orphaned Building Permits

How many orphaned building permits are there in Victoria?

There are tens of thousands of orphaned building permits across Victoria due to the Relevant Building Surveyor not being able to complete their functions due to varying reasons.

What are some of the circumstances in which a Private Building Surveyor may not be able to complete their role?

Some of the reasons that a Private Building Surveyor may not be able to complete their role are:

  • Cancellation or suspension or registration by the VBA
  • Illness
  • Death
  • Retirement
  • Imprisonment
  • Insolvency
  • Lack of Insurance

My Building Permit has not been finalised and the appointed Private Building Surveyor is no longer practicing. Who can assist me?

The VBA can assist home owners with advice regarding the process of appointing a new building surveyor to complete a building permit. In some exceptional circumstances the VBA may appoint a Statutory Manager to oversee completion of the building permit.

The Private Building Surveyor who issued my building permit has been suspended or their registration has been cancelled. What do I do?

If your building permit has not been finalised you will be required to engage a building surveyor to finalise your permit and issue you with an Occupancy Permit or Certificate of Final Inspection. The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) may appoint a Manager to work through the 'orphaned permit' with the property owner to resolve the permit. Alternatively you can try to engage a private building surveyor by transferring the original building surveyors functions to finalise the building permit.

Why can’t Council take on my ‘orphaned’ building permit?

There are a number of reasons why Council is unable to take over incomplete building permits including but not limited to:

  • potential for inheriting liabilities surrounding earlier sub-standard work for which the MBS may personally become liable and could be subject to sanction by the Building Practitioners Board (BPB) (eg loss of registration) or civil litigation.
  • substantial work and effort to resolve non-compliant issues, including potential for destructive testing to inspect building work already carried out.
  • lack of existing records making completion of functions very difficult
  • negative impact on existing Council workload, risk and resources.
  • undesirable precedent that local government will bail out situations which are theresult of failings in other sectors of government.
  • potential insurance premiums increase due to additional risk exposure; and
  • conflict of charging the owner new fees and then carrying out enforcement.

Is the Victorian Building Authority working on a solution for orphaned building permits in Victoria?

The VBA has confirmed that the Department Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is currently leading a review of legislative provisions in respect to orphaned building permits and includes the active participation of the VBA along with the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and Victorian Municipal Building Surveyors Group (VMBSG). 

What else can Council do to support its residents who have an orphaned building permit on their land?

Council has been advocating to the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) since 2020, and recently met with the CEO of the VBA in August to continue this dialogue for residents. We have been advised by the VBA that reforms to the legislation are currently being considered to resolve the issue of orphaned building permits across Victoria however, at this stage we have not been given a timeframe or detail about the what the reforms may include.  

This work is being led by the Department of Environment Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), who are consulting with the VBA, Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), and the Victorian Municipal Building Surveyors Group.  DELWP are best placed to provide updates and information on the proposed legislative changes. 

In the interim, the VBA have notified Council that they have been liaising with some of the residents directly affected by an orphaned building permit to provide an avenue for resolving their particular matters.