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Department of Justice

Building maintenance

For public safety it is critical that all building owners understand their responsibilities in relation to the essential safety features in their buildings.

When the construction of a building is complete, the owner (or sometimes the occupier) of the building is responsible for maintenance of features and measures essential for the safety and health of the occupants and those who use the building. The regular maintenance of the prescribed essential safety measures such as fire safety, exits and air flow will ensure that they will remain operational throughout the life of the building.  Correct maintenance is the best way of ensuring that safety systems will operate reliably if an emergency arises. Otherwise a serious risk to the safety or health of the occupants or users may arise.

The Fact Sheet - Essential Building Services - Building Act 2016 (pdf, 180.0 KB) explains changes to using Form 56 and maintenance requirements for new and existing building work.

Australian Building Codes Board publication

Maintenance of Safety Measures, Equipment and Energy Efficiency Installations Handbook  (2nd Edition 2015).

What type of buildings does the maintenance law apply

All buildings, other than a detached dwelling house or a non-habitable outbuilding.

These include:

  • All public, commercial or industrial buildings and all workplaces
  • Shops, offices, factories and schools
  • Hotels, motels, guest houses and other types of tourist accommodation
  • Night clubs, cafes, theatres, bars or other buildings where the public has access
  • Places of sleeping accommodation such as blocks of flats, units or apartments where there are a number of individual private dwellings situated one above the other

Affected buildings include the following Classes (as defined in the National Construction Code):

Class 1b: Guest houses including "bed and breakfast" establishments, boarding houses, or hostels
Class 2: Buildings containing sole-occupancy units one above the other (e.g. apartments, blocks of flats)
Class 3: Residential parts of hotels or motels, backpacker accommodation, residential parts of schools
Class 4: Caretaker's flat
Class 5: Offices for professional or commercial purposes
Class 6: Shops or other buildings for sale of goods by retail including cafes, restaurants, milk bars, dining rooms, and bars serving liquor
Class 7: Buildings used for car parks, storage or display of goods including a warehouse
Class 8: Laboratories or buildings for production or assembly of goods
Class 9: Public buildings such as schools, health care buildings and aged care facilities, or places where people assemble such as nightclubs, sporting venues etc.
Class 10c: A private bushfire shelter associated with a Class 1 building

Complying with the laws on maintenance