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Source: Auckland Council

Auckland Council has welcomed a decision by the Auckland District Court to fine a developer who illegally built unsafe apartments and hopes it will deter others wanting to flout the rules.

The court fined John Liong Kiat Wong $80,750 relating to four charges after it found he illegally turned a warehouse in Mt Eden into a building with offices, car parking and residential apartments.

The illegal building work was discovered in 2018 when a large concrete block fell from the top level of the converted building and onto neighbour’s roof, narrowly missing a skylight. 

As well as converting the building illegally, people were living in the apartments and basic safety features like smoke detectors and fire sprinklers didn’t have a warrant of fitness.

Judge David Kirkpatrick said Mr Wong was an experienced developer, so there was no explanation for why he didn’t follow the rules. He said the offending called for a substantial penalty. 

“In particular, the purposes of the Building Act include providing for the safety of occupants of buildings. The deliberate behaviour of the defendant in failing to obtain the necessary consents and in failing to have the specified systems checked and approved requires a deterrent sentence,” Judge Kirkpatrick said in his decision

Mayor Phil Goff says the penalty reflects the serious nature of the offending and will send a strong message to anyone purposefully not meeting their obligations under the Building Act.

“The offender in this case showed an egregious disregard for the health and wellbeing of his tenants and the wider community. Those who flout the rules in such a manner need to know that they will be caught and face of the consequences of their actions and I welcome the heavy fine imposed by Judge Kirkpatrick.”

Auckland Council’s Manager Compliance Response and Investigations Kerri Fergusson says the offending in this case was calculated and deliberate, for commercial gain, and put occupants and neighbours at risk.

She says the sentence reflects the seriousness of Mr Wong’s actions and should act as a deterrent to others wanting to avoid the legal process of obtaining the required consents and inspections.