Strengthening the Licensed Building Practitioners scheme

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has announced changes to the Licensed Buildings Practitioners (LBP) scheme to improve accountability, efficiency and fairness.

“We are strengthening our occupational regulation of Licensed Building Practitioners so that New Zealanders can remain confident in LBPs and their work,” said Amy Moorhead, MBIE’s Building Policy Manager.

The Government has agreed to strengthen the LBP scheme to introduce a code of ethics, improve the structure of the complaints and discipline model to introduce independent investigators, and enhance the efficiency of the licensing administration process such as including a grace period for late renewals.

“The changes will help MBIE and the Building Practitioners Board ensure that LBPs are trained, skilled and accountable,” Amy Moorhead said.

The review of the Licensed Building Practitioners scheme is part of a series of reforms to the building laws to lift the efficiency and quality of building work in New Zealand. The reforms will see a more efficient building system, a lift in the quality of building work, and fairer outcomes if things go wrong. Changes to the LBP scheme are part of a second phase of reforms which aim to lift the performance of building professionals and tradespeople, and hold accountable those who do not meet the standards set for them.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will develop the code of ethics for Cabinet to consider in the coming months. Licensed Building Practitioners will have time before the launch of the code of ethics to understand what it will mean for them.

MBIE is currently seeking feedback from Licensed Building Practitioners and those who engage with them on three key elements of the LBP scheme: LBPs’ ability to supervise non-LBPs undertaking restricted building work; licensing classes; and if the minimum standards of competency remain appropriate. A discussion document has been published to the MBIE website Submissions close on 31 May 2021.

Details of the changes

The following changes to the LBP scheme have been approved:

  • Introduce a code of ethics for LBPs to establish clear and concise behavioural requirements to manage poor ethical conduct;
  • Amend the following licensing processes in the Building Act to ease the administrative burden of the scheme, by:
    • moving the process for renewing licences from the Building Act to the LBP Rules;
    • allowing for the licence term to be set in the LBP Rules, and prescribing the licence term to be no longer than five years in the Building Act;
    • providing that the public register can distinguish between a licence that is not renewed by the due date and a licence that has been suspended due to disciplinary reasons, to improve clarity on the public register to support consumers to make more informed choices;
    • allowing licences that are not renewed in a timely manner to be subject to a grace period, in which the LBP may renew the licence, and that this period will be specified in the LBP Rules;
    • making it so a licence that is cancelled or suspended for a disciplinary order will stay recorded on the public register for three years; and
    • allowing the Board to take disciplinary action against LBPs who undertake restricted building work during the grace period.
  • Amend the complaints and disciplinary process in the Building Act to align with the Electricity Act 1992 to address issues around natural justice and fairness, by:
    • separating the investigative and adjudicative functions in the complaints and disciplinary model by using independent investigators to undertake investigations, in order to clarify and strengthen the Board’s role as an impartial decision maker;
    • granting the investigator powers to obtain and execute a warrant to enter land or premises for the purposes of investigating a complaint, where necessary for the investigation;
    • granting the investigator powers to require a person provide any document or information that may be required, where necessary for the purposes of investigating a complaint, by written notice;
    • allowing the Board to hold parts of meetings or hearings in private where it is appropriate due to the nature of the evidence;
    • allowing the Board to amend an order of the Board where an administrative error has been made;
    • allowing the Board to suspend an LBP’s licence should they fail to comply with a training order;
    • allowing the Board to take disciplinary action against LBPs for carrying out or supervising building work without a building consent when one is required;
    • making it an offence to not comply with a notice to supply the required document or information; and
    • improving the triaging powers of the LBP Registrar.

Source: MBIE