What is a Certificate for Public Use (CPU)?
Essentially, it is the assurance that a building (or part of a building) is safe for the public to use while the building is undergoing building work that involves a building consent, but for which as yet there is no Code Compliance Certificate (CCC).
A CPU can apply to all, or part of a building, that is used by the public, whether or not an entry fee is charged. Examples include a shopping centre, store; sports stadium, swimming pool(s), a zoo or any other building open to the public.
Certificates for Public Use do not relieve the owner of a building, from the obligation to apply for a Code Compliance Certificate after all the building work has been carried out.
Under the Building Act Section 363 the person who owns, occupies or controls the premises must NOT use or allow the use of ANY part of the premises that is affected by building work if:
- A building consent is required for the work, but has not been granted,
- A building consent has been granted, but no CCC or CPU has been issued,
- A building consent has been granted, and a CPU issued, but no CCC has been issued AND the CPU conditions have not been complied with.
Who can apply for a CPU?
A person who owns occupies, or controls the premises intended for public use, or their agent can apply for a CPU. Evidence of the applicant’s status may be verified by the following:
- Copy of Certificate of Title
- Agreement for Sale and Purchase
- Property Management Agreement
- Other – any document showing the full name of the applicant
How do you apply for a CPU?
A Certificate for Public Use must be applied for on the prescribed form:
The application must also be accompanied by:
- Plans and specifications clearly showing the part(s) of the premises that this application applies to.
- A list of all specified systems: that are being altered to, added to or removed from the building in the course of the building work, and where there are temporary modifications to specified systems. This is required to ensure that appropriate maintenance and testing are continued during the construction period.
- The Council’s CPU fee.
- Impact Analysis: An analysis of the impact of building work on areas intended to be occupied and the proposals to minimise those impacts considering, where relevant, the impact on the following areas:
- Access to the occupied area, including access for people with disabilities, guarding of changes in level, and the removal of conflict with construction traffic and stored material
- Means of escape from fire, including egress path with restriction, route changes and possible need for interim evacuation plans
- Operation of specified systems, including active fire alerting and suppression and any proposed compensatory temporary arrangements
- Structural integrity and any temporary propping
- Passive fire rating integrity and any proposed compensatory temporary arrangements
- Building environment, including sealing off occupied areas from construction noise and dust, and maintaining adequate ventilation
- Sanitary facilities adequate for proposed occupant numbers and also for people with disabilities
- Construction area security
- Any other information that is required by regulations, or by the Council.
The Territorial Authority (TA) has the right to charge a fee, or levy, or both under the Building Act 2004. If the fees/levy are not paid, the TA has the right to refuse or perform the service until the fee/levy is paid. (s219, 240, 281A of the Building Act 2004)
Processing the CPU application
The application documentation will be assessed for compliance with the Building Code, and if appropriate there may be an on-site inspection to assess the building work for compliance. A Territorial Authority (Council) has 20 working days to assess the application and may during this time require further reasonable information in respect of the application. If this happens the 20-day clock is suspended and not resumed until the information is received.
Agreements can be made to mutually establish any further period during which the Territorial Authority has to decide whether to issue the Certificate for Public Use.
When is a CPU application refused?
A CPU will be issued only when the Council is satisfied that members of the public using the premises can do so safely, and in the event of an emergency, members of the public will be able to evacuate safely. A CPU will not be issued if the Territorial Authority (TA) is not satisfied that the public will be safe. For example:
- If the specified systems affected by the building work are not compliant
- If the provision for means of escape is unsatisfactory
- If the emergency warning systems are not adequate
Only a Territorial Authority can issue a CPU and the certificate will only cover the building work that the TA is satisfied (to the best of its knowledge, belief and on reasonable grounds) to be compliant with the Building Code, and current regulations. If a Territorial Authority refuses to issue a Certificate for Public Use, the TA must give the applicant written a notice of (a) the refusal; and (b) the reasons for the refusal.
As with other building work, where a building consent is required, it is illegal to carry out building work without a building consent or where the work does not comply with the building consent that has been issued.
It is also an offense to allow members of the public to use a building, or any parts thereof, that have not been deemed safe by a Territorial Authority. You could be prosecuted for operating a Dangerous and Insanitary building under Section 131 of the Building Act, or under (Section 363) where:
- It is an offense to allow members of the public to use a building that has not been certified as safe, or where a Certificate for Public Use has not been issued, and
- It is an offense to allow members of the public to use a building where a Certificate for Public Use has been issued, but the conditions of its issue have not been complied with.
A person who commits an offense under this section of the Building Act is liable to a fine not exceeding $200,000 and, in the case of a continuing offense, to a further fine not exceeding $20,000 for every day or part of a day during which the offense has continued.