The Enforcement Branch of the Building Commission is responsible for detecting and investigating matters involving alleged breaches of the building and plumbing laws. The branch also receives and investigates complaints about disciplinary matters relating to registered building service providers and licensed plumbers. The Enforcement Branch is not involved in resolving individual disputes.
Should your complaint seek redress in relation to a home building work contract or the carrying out of a regulated building service, please refer to the dispute resolution page of this website.
How to make a complaint about a breach of the building or plumbing laws or a disciplinary matter
If you have information about a possible breach of a building or plumbing law or a disciplinary matter you can notify the Building Commission via the following details:
Locked Bag 14
Cloisters Square WA 6850
Level 1, 303 Sevenoaks Street
Cannington WA 6107
Fax: 08 6251 1333 (20 pages max)
Online disciplinary complaint form Click here to complete your complaint online
In addition, disciplinary complaints regarding registered building service providers and licensed plumbers can be lodged by printing and completing a Disciplinary complaint form. If you are unsure as to what method to use, contact the Building Commission for advice.
The Enforcement Branch undertakes a comprehensive assessment of information it receives from you prior to determining whether or not a matter will be investigated. You will be advised of the outcome of the assessment. In assessing matters for investigation the Enforcement Branch gives priority to matters that demonstrate one or more of the following factors:
- Whether there is a significant public interest in the matter.
- Whether the conduct indicates an emerging compliance trend.
- Whether it is a pattern of non-compliance by the provider/licensee.
- Whether the conduct resulted in a significant risk of injury to public health, threat to public safety or harm to the environment.
- Whether the conduct was unlawful.
- Whether the non-compliance appeared intentional.
- Whether the provider/licensee has accepted liability for his/her actions.
- Whether the provider/licensee has provided a satisfactory remedy to the consumer.
- The ability to adequately manage the conduct by providing education and/or formal warning.
- Where it may be beneficial to test or clarify the law.
How long will the matter take to investigate?
When the Enforcement Branch determines to investigate a matter it endeavours to do so promptly although it is not always possible to predict how long each investigation will take. You will be notified of the outcome upon completion.
What are the possible outcomes of an investigation?
The laws are to protect both the regulated industries and consumers. They require a minimum standard to be met in order to be registered. They also require those registered to conduct themselves in ways that produce work of an acceptable standard and in a manner reasonably to be expected by clients and suppliers of goods and services.
The ultimate sanction against a registered provider that will not or cannot meet the expected standards is removal from the industry. Thankfully that sanction is rare. Most often registered providers that are not performing as expected receive fines, cautions and reprimands or are required to undergo further training to give them the opportunity to gain the knowledge they lack.
While the laws provide for sanctions against directors of registered companies, they do not make the Board a regulator of corporations in the same way ASIC is. Where a director’s actions caused or contributed to a disciplinary breach by a company there is scope for the director to receive a fine or to be excluded from involvement in the industry for a period. However, the focus is not about punishment, but on what is necessary to bring about a proper functioning industry.
An investigation may result in one or a combination of the following outcomes:
No further action
Where the investigation has resulted in the complaint not being substantiated, insufficient evidence is identified to commence further action or other imposed restrictions exist such as being out of time to prosecute.
Under this process the Building Commission will deem it appropriate to bring the matter to the respondent’s attention with the intention of deterring the respondent from further possible breaches of legislation.
This process is undertaken when the Building Commission has an appropriate level of evidence to formally caution the respondent regarding apparent breaches of legislation. If the respondent has previously been issued with a formal caution regarding similar matters, a higher level of enforcement may be likely.
When sufficient evidence exists and the use of education/caution is not sufficient to address non-compliance, the Building Commission, when available, may issue infringement notices.
Proceedings are usually heard in a Magistrates Court and may result in the respondent being fined if convicted.
Based on the type of disciplinary conduct and strength of the evidence, the Building Services Board or Plumbers Licensing Board may make an allegation to the State Administrative Tribunal concerning the conduct of a building service provider or licensed plumber. In the most serious of cases the registration or licence may be cancelled and fines up to $25,000 imposed.