Show cause notice

Council is committed to being fair to you and giving you the opportunity to respond, before taking any further action. A show cause notice is a formal document which:

  • sets out the basis for Council’s understanding of the alleged offence;
  • invites you to respond to Council, explaining why no enforcement action, such as issuing an enforcement notice, should be taken to resolve the issue;
  • carries no penalty, but is the first step in the enforcement process.

The legislation requires that we give you a response time frame of 20 business days.

However, if there is compelling reason that you may require further time to respond, please notify Council prior to the date in the notice and we can discuss the possibility of an alternative response time frame.


Reasons for receiving a show cause notice

As local authority, Council has responsibility for investigating matters under the Building Act 1975 or the Planning Act 2016. During an investigation, Council will examine the facts and circumstances to determine whether any enforcement action is necessary.

An investigation might relate to:

  • works which have been carried out without a building development approval;
  • building works or a structure in a dangerous or dilapidated state;
  • a building that is unfit for occupation; and/or
  • building works which have never received a final inspection certificate or certificate of classification.

As part of the investigation, Council will give you a show cause notice because it reasonably believes there may be a contravention of the legislation for which you may be responsible.

The opportunity to hear your perspective is an important part of the investigation. Please note the while you may not have originally undertaken the works, responsibility passes to a new owner upon completion of a property transfer.


Responding to a show cause notice

Whilst a show cause notice is an opportunity for you to respond to Council, you are not obligated to respond. However, it is a valuable opportunity for you to advise Council what steps you intend to take to resolve the issue, or why you believe Council should take no further action.

If you do not dispute that there has been a contravention of the legislation, you might choose to advise Council:

  • what steps you intend to take to resolve the matter; and
  • the time frame for resolution.

Providing a response to a show cause notice enables Council to determine whether it is reasonable to proceed with formal enforcement action, such as giving you an enforcement notice which will require particular action/s, by assessing all of the information at hand. Council will always first consider any advice of intentions to comply, discretionary or mitigating circumstances or defences that you raise in your response to the show cause notice.

If Council needs clarification on some point, we will contact you by telephone or email. However, if you would prefer a meeting to discuss the show cause notice, you are welcome to make an appointment with the Council officer named in the notice.


Resolving the matter

To resolve the matter, you may wish to employ the services of a private building certifier, consultant town planner, architect, or solicitor to give you advice on the matter. These professionals may be able to give you an understanding of the required time and costs involved, if any, in resolving the matter.

Alternatively, you may wish to speak with a Council officer on 131 872 regarding building matters.

If you resolve the matter before the date within the show cause notice, we encourage you to notify Council to arrange for a further inspection, so that the investigation can be finalised as soon as possible.

An example case study is provided below of how a matter can be resolved with as little difficulty as possible, as well as avoiding any further unnecessary costs.

In July 2018, Council inspected a residential property and identified that a carport had been built without a building approval. Council sent the property owner a show cause notice, stating that it believed a development offence had occurred under the relevant Act/s. The notice requested a response by the end of August 2018.

The owner then sought advice from a private building certifier, who confirmed that the structure required a building approval and advised the approximate time frame for obtaining an approval would be three months.

At the end of August 2018, the owner wrote to Council confirming that they had engaged a private building certifier and required three months in which to have the structure approved. Council decided not to take any enforcement action whilst the application was being assessed.

After the development approval for a carport was given in November 2018, Council closed its investigation into this matter



Council deals with the personal information of all parties to an investigation in a strictly confidential manner. We will not disclose your personal details, or the details of any complainant, to any party.

Council will not reveal the source or details of a complaint or complainant to a third party. You may be able to make a Right to Information request about the matter. However, details such as the name and address of the complainant will generally not be available to an applicant under the privacy legislation.

For detailed information on privacy matters, please contact Council’s Customer Service Centre on 131 872.


Related information

PDF Building show cause notice information sheet (INFO 032) for print

external link icon Information about building laws - Department of Housing and Public Works

external link icon Building enforcement notice information

external link icon Development show cause notice information

external link icon Development enforcement notice information



The information contained in this sheet is a guide only.

This information has been prepared by Toowoomba Regional Council to help customers gain an understanding of Council’s responsibilities for investigating matters under the Building Act 1975 or the Planning Act 2016. Please consult the relevant legislation for detailed information as the content of this information sheet is not intended to replace the provisions of such.