February 10, 2021
South Burnett Regional Council will crack down on residents living in unapproved dwellings who repeatedly ignore Council directions or put their own health and safety at risk.
At Wednesday’s Community Standing Committee meeting, officers said where an approved Class 1a building (ie. a house) has not yet been established on a property, anyone living on that property was illegally occupying it.
They said while some owners opt to live in temporary accommodation while their house was being built, this type of occupancy potentially breached public health and safety regulations.
Where the health and safety of residents were not at risk and good progress was being made on putting up an approved permanent home, Council tended to take a soft approach towards enforcement.
But where health and safety were at risk or owners had ignored previous warnings, a tougher approach was required.
Officers recommended Council develop an Illegal Occupation Of Private Land Policy, along with a related procedure and enforcement strategy, to guide staff when they were called on to tackle problems in this area.
Cr Gavin Jones said the problem was not new and had also been discussed by the previous Council.
However, he warned any new policy could potentially affect “thousands” of people if it were poorly drafted.
Cr Danita Potter said she wanted to see health and safety matters included in the new policy as these were the issues that caused most concern.
Cr Kathy Duff said she agreed that health and safety were the key motivations.
“We don’t want to be (seen as) a heavy-handed Council,” Cr Duff said.
Cr Roz Frohloff said safety and welfare were very important but so was tackling a small group of “repeat offenders” who repeatedly ignored Council directions.
Councillors agreed unanimously to develop the new policy and procedures.
The policy will now be workshopped with relevant Council officers over the next few months before coming back to a future meeting for adoption.