Building Warrants of Fitness

Relevant Legislation
Building (Specified Systems, Change the Use, and Earthquake-prone Buildings) Regulations 2005, ss 108-111 Building Act 2004

This Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF) system is a compulsory maintenance regime for commercial buildings with life safety systems, and also for residential cable cars.

BWOFs are issued on an annual cycle with dates varying depending on when the Compliance Schedule was first issued.

The law requires all owner / occupier checks to be done, all inspection and maintenance of systems to be complete and all 12As to be issued by Independent Qualified Persons. Only, then can the BWOF be issued.
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Without a valid BWOF you could:
  • Invalidate a sale
  • Invalidate the building’s insurance
  • Invalidate other approvals or licenses to operate (e.g., liquor and health licenses)
  • Invalidate funding (e.g., Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health funding).

Records of all inspections and checks must be kept for two years. These are to be filed with the Compliance Schedule.

Each building has a Compliance Schedule which lists the specified systems and the inspection, testing and reporting procedures which will keep them in good working order.

These life safety systems (such as fire alarms, sprinklers, lifts, etc.) are checked during the year by Independent Qualified Persons, and their staff. Some checks can be done by owners.

At the end of the 12-month period a Form 12A is issued by an IQP to verify that the inspection, maintenance, and reporting procedures on a compliance schedule for a specified system have been carried out during the previous 12 months.

The building owner then issues the Building Warrant of Fitness and sends a copy of it and the relevant 12As to the Council.

Compliance Schedules have been largely legally required since 1 July 1992; they became mandatory from 1 July 1993, under the Building Act 1991.
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Case Law

Auckland Council v Radius Contracting Ltd, [2021] NZDC 938
  • This case dealt with an expired building warrant of fitness.

Auckland Council v Wong, [2020] NZDC 23613
  • A case where no building warrants of fitness had been sought, contravention of s 108 of the Building Act 2004.

Catholic Diocese of Auckland v Hato Petera Ltd [2017] NZHC 1957
  • A case in which a building held no current building warrant of fitness, condition posed a serious fire risk to any occupant.

Auckland City Council v Kumar and Raven's Fire and Security Ltd, DC Auckland CRI-2007-004-22014, 22 July 2008
  • Fire alarm system faulty on all levels, Raven's Fire and Security Ltd.

Regalwood Holdings v Property Ventures Investments Ltd, HC Christchurch CIV-2007-409-1069, 19 December 2007
  • This concerned a failure to provide a valid building warrant of fitness.

Property Ventures Investments Ltd v LSW Ltd HC Christchurch CIV-2006-409-2447, 6 July 2007
  • This case concerned the updated building warrant of fitness as required by Building Act 2004, in absence of compliance schedule.

Hutt City Council v Molenaar, DC Lower Hutt CRN8032014873, 13 January 2000
  • This case examined the reliance on a poorly issued building warrant of fitness.

Rotorua District Council v Chandler, Draskovich Holdings Ltd, DC Rotorua CRN8063003925, 26 May 1999
  • This case dealt with a charge of knowingly displaying a false building warrant of fitness

Hamilton City Council v Ransan Holdings Ltd, DC Hamilton CRN8019014200, 29 September 1998
  • Failed to comply with a notice directing it to comply with inspection, maintenance and record-keeping requirements as specified in a compliance schedule requiring the issue of a building warrant of fitness
  • Note: the Raven case distinguished this line of cases

A. U. Investments Ltd v Skeet, TT 335/97, 25 March 1997
  • This was a tenancy tribunal case that dealt with BWOFs and the Housing Improvement Regulations. 

Auckland City Council v Attorney-General, HC Auckland M1716/96, 18 August 1997
  • This was an application by seven territorial local authorities for declaration that they could prescribe fees for services rendered in relation to building warrants of fitness.

Lees Trading Co (NZ) Ltd v Loveday, HC Christchurch CP70/96, 15 October 1996
  • This case considered whether a BWOF could be waived under condition of agreement.

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Most Recent Determinations

2019/069: Regarding the need for a compliance schedule for a cable car servicing a residential dwelling
  • Note: The decision in this determination was confirmed on appeal to the District Court. See Ford v Auckland Council [2020] NZDC 22162.
  • Cable car built in 2000 (servicing the owner’s house) whether needed compliance schedule, no such requirement when the cable car was built, how to interpret the requirement for the compliance schedule to include performance standards for cable car.

2019/040: Regarding the authority's refusal to amend a compliance schedule to remove a mezzanine floor from the schedule for an early childhood centre
  • Refusal to amend a compliance schedule to remove the fire-rated mezzanine floor from the schedule for early childhood centre, whether the fire-rated floor is a “fire separation”.

2018/059: Issue of a notice to fix in respect of the compliance schedule and building warrant of fitness for a building
Note: This determination is subject to clarification
  • Notice to fix issued by authority, specified systems, compliance schedule, building warrant of fitness, whether the notice to fix was correctly issued.

2011/089: The issue of a notice to fix concerning the refusal of a reduced building warrant of fitness for a hotel
  • Confirmation of a notice to fix issued, properly completed Form 12A had not been supplied