St Albans landlord fined $4500 for failing to install a fire hydrant system

A St Albans landlord has been fined $4500 by the Sunshine Magistrates’ Court for failing to comply with a Building Order to install a fire hydrant system.

In mid-2013, Ms Thi Minh Thu Nguyen leased her St Albans property to tenants intending to run a Chinese restaurant. Shortly after, a private building surveyor issued a building permit allowing the property to be used as a restaurant. The permit required a fire hydrant system to be installed for the safety of patrons attending the restaurant, with the system to be commissioned and inspected before the building could be occupied.

A breakdown in administrative procedures at the building surveyor’s company delayed a final inspection of Ms Nguyen’s property until June 2016. A site inspection of the premises found no fire hydrant system installed at the property, contrary to the permit, and tenants operating a restaurant.

In September 2016, the private building surveyor issued Ms Nguyen with a Building Order instructing her to install the fire hydrant system immediately. A subsequent inspection in July 2017 found none of the work ordered had been carried out. The matter was then referred to the Victorian Building Authority (VBA).

After being notified by the building surveyor, the VBA carried out an investigation in October 2017. During an interview with the VBA, Ms Nguyen claimed she was unaware a building permit had been issued for her property. She also alleged she did not recall receiving the Building Order or know she had to comply with it. All costs and correspondence relating to her property were forwarded on to her tenants, Ms Nguyen claimed.

By mid-June 2018, no fire hydrant system had been installed at the St Albans property. The VBA subsequently charged Ms Nguyen with one count of failing to comply with a Building Order.

Ms Nguyen appeared in the Sunshine Magistrates’ Court on 23 October 2018 and pleaded guilty. At the time of sentencing, the work required had finally been carried out. She was fined $4500 plus costs.