Certificate for Public Use

Sections 362W, 363, 363A-363C Building Act 2004
A Certificate for Public Use (CPU) is a tool in the Building Act intended to be a form of temporary occupancy certificate to allow the public to enter a public building safely whilst construction is underway. Modern health and safety laws almost make this process redundant. Because PCBUs have an overarching responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of all people in the buildings they control. However, it is a signal to the council that the building consent process is still live. Ultimately, to be replaced by a Code Compliance Certificate.

CPUs use can only be used where a Consent has been granted for the building work but no Code Compliance Certificate has been issued yet.
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Premises affected by CPUs can include:
  • schools and childcare centres
  • hospitals and rest homes
  • premises providing public accommodation
  • places of assembly, including churches, cinemas and conference facilities
  • clubrooms and recreation centres with public access
  • restaurants and bars
  • public foyers in office and apartment buildings

The requirement for a CPU doesn't apply to:
  • private homes
  • apartment buildings or office space (except where they have public foyers)
  • building work that doesn't require a building consent

The Certificate can be issued with the Consent (for an existing building undergoing renovations).

It can also be issued when the job is nearing its end, and the Code Compliance Certificate has not been issued, but the premises need to be opened early.

A CPU can take up to 20 days to process, so, ideally it is good to apply for one a month or so ahead of the scheduled opening day to allow the Authority plenty of time to consider and process it.

Certificates will have a timeframe decided by the Authority depending on the nature of the work and what is left to be completed (typically 3-6 months).

The owner of a building must still apply for a Code Compliance Certificate after all the building work has been carried out.

Failing to acquire a CPU could lead to infringements or prosecution as it is an offense under the Act to not have one when it is required.
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Case Law

Beech Cove Properties Ltd v Eschenbach, HC Invercargill CIV-2009-425-163, 1 March 2010
  • This case involves a notice to fix issued for lack of a code compliance certificate in the presence of a certificate for public use.

Thames-Coromandel District Council v Fawcett, DC Hamilton CIV-2008-019-655, 16 December 2008
  • This case concerns the non-issue of code of compliance certificate and certificate for public use for a footbridge.

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Most Recent Determinations

2020/025: Regarding the authority's decisions to issue a dangerous and insanitary building notice and a certificate of acceptance in respect of a sleepout 
  • Whether the authority’s decision to grant a certificate of acceptance for building work in respect of the use of a storage container as a five-bed sleepout was correct.

2019/054: Regarding the issue of five notices to fix for a collection of buildings constructed without building consent 
  • Regarding five notices to fix for a variety of building work that had been carried out without a building consent or carried out not in compliance with the Building Code.

2018/049: Regarding the issue of a code compliance certificate for three buildings
  • Concerning the issue of a code compliance certificate on the basis that the authority had admitted that it had issued the code compliance certificate in error for three buildings when one of them had not yet been constructed.

2014/057: Dispute about provision of an accessible reception counter to a Corrections facility 
  • Whether a construction at a Community Corrections facility did not comply with cl G5.3.4 of the Building Code whether it was accessible to persons with disabilities.

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Older Determinations


2014/045: Regarding the refusal to issue a code compliance certificate for a 7-year-old commercial building


2010/043: Strengthening of a two-storey commercial building subject to a change of use


2011/069: Regarding conditions to a building consent and the use of a building


2008/116: Refusal of a code compliance certificate for a new kindergarten