Council takes action on illegal dwellings

Monday, 06 February 2017

Lismore City Council is reminding residents of the consequences of undertaking unlawful building works and residing in illegal dwellings following two recent successful Court cases.

A resident of Nimbin was ordered by the Land & Environment Court in April 2016 to remove several structures and caravans from a property that was being illegally occupied.

Inspections by Council staff identified numerous health and safety issues on the premises including a lack of proper waste disposal facilities, dangerous electrical connections and structures that had not been built to appropriate standards including bushfire risks. The unlawful work was undertaken by the owner despite proper advice from Council on the process that needed to be followed. The now vacant property has since been sold.

Another property in Monaltrie was also the subject of a Land & Environment Court order in August 2016 after the owner failed to comply with Council orders to remove unlawful caravans and associated structures on the property. The subject property was located in a high-risk floodway, and presented a number of additional health and safety risks for residents. The structures were removed just prior to Christmas.

In both cases, the Land & Environment Court ordered the owners to pay Council’s legal costs. In one case, this amounted to $13,000.

“The outcome in these matters that Council has been required to take to court is a clear warning that it can be expensive to undertake unlawful building work,” Council’s Manager of Development and Compliance Peter Jeuken said.

“You might temporarily avoid fees, but not building to the proper standards can put family members at risk,” he said. “Even if you are not fined or prosecuted, being required to demolish structures that are not safe and represent a risk to the occupants can be disruptive and expensive.

“People who undertake unlawful building work need to understand that when these matters are brought to Council’s attention we have an obligation to take action and enforce the relevant planning and building laws for the benefit of the whole community. In many instances, people will work with Council to achieve compliance, but when people are uncooperative or demonstrate passive resistance, Council has an obligation to bring the matter to a conclusion to ensure community safety.”

Image: Illegal dwellings at Nimbin.

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