NSW Fair Trading ensures compliance with the Home Building Act 1989. The Act requires builders and tradespeople to be licensed for the residential building work that they do, including tradespersons who undertake specialist work such as plumbing, electrical and air conditioning work.
The Act also establishes standards in relation to competence, probity, contracts, statutory warranties and home building compensation fund to protect people against faulty or incomplete work.
Fair Trading assesses every complaint received to determine how it should be dealt with. This will determine whether mediation and dispute resolution should be attempted, a full investigation is needed, or disciplinary action should be considered. Fair Trading liaises with other State authorities to identify marketplace trends that may affect consumers and traders in NSW. This process ensures that Fair Trading’s resources are used efficiently and effectively.
Fair Trading investigates alleged breaches of the Home Building Act. Any resulting offences are dealt with by:
- the issue of a penalty notice
- prosecution through the local court
- injunctive action in the Supreme Court of NSW
- disciplinary action.
Compliance programs detect and deter unlicensed contractors who have the potential to disadvantage consumers and reputable licensed contractors. Fair Trading conducts regular programs to test the level of compliance with the Home Building Act and penalties are imposed on contractors who fail to comply.
Persons who have either been prosecuted for offences under the Act or disqualified from holding a contractor licence are monitored by Fair Trading to ensure that they do not return to the industry.
In the course of administering the Home Building Act and related consumer protection legislation, Fair Trading may be required to take enforcement action against individuals or businesses that contravene those laws.
Enforcement action is designed to:
- stop unlawful conduct,
- reduce the likelihood of its recurrence,
- act as a deterrent,
- maintain a high standard of competency amongst licensed contractors
- where appropriate, reverse its effect through actions such as corrective advertising or compensation.
Fair Trading publishes a quarterly report on enforcement actions taken, (excluding matters subject to appeal) which may include:
- convictions resulting from prosecution in Court
- statistical information on penalty notices
- disciplinary determinations, including results of proceedings in the Administrative Decisions Tribunal
- injunctions resulting from civil proceedings in the Supreme Court.
In 2016/2017, Fair Trading under the Home Building Act:
- undertook 613 investigations
- finalised 66 notices to show cause, which included issuing fines to the value of $207,500
- issued penalty notices for 588 offences to the value of $651,000
- undertook successful prosecutions for 108 offences, resulting in the issue of fines and compensation totalling $ 380,669