You have just bought your dream property with a spacious garden and quiet neighbours…..or so you thought. What happens when your neighbour’s tree encroaches on your property or their cat mistakes your garden for its litter tray? What are your rights and how can you avoid neighbour wars?
Certificate of Title for the property
Before you purchase a property, know exactly what you are getting for your buck. Do not rely on natural boundary markers, fences or the real estate to conclude what land is yours. When considering a property, ask to see a copy of the Certificate of Title for the property which will outline the exact boundaries. The boundaries of your land were fixed by a land transfer survey when the land was first subdivided and cannot be altered without the land owners consent.
If your future fence is encroaching on your neighbour’s property, it becomes your problem with the purchase of land, regardless of whether you were responsible for erecting the structure. If there is an existing structure from the previous owner, keep the neighbour happy and it shouldn’t be a problem. If it is, remove the structure and enter a further discussion about shared fencing responsibilities. Land and property owners can enter into an agreement concerning fencing matters which is bound by the Fencing Act of 1978. If you wish to erect a new fence on the boundary line, you can ask your neighbor to pay half the costs. If they object to your garden divider or refuse to pay half the costs, you can serve them with a fencing notice under the act. Your neighbour can also serve you if they object to your proposal. If you can’t come to an agreement, the next step would be for you to contact the Dispute Tribunal for them to decide an outcome. If you want to build a fence at your expense, you can do so on your side of the boundary line……but hope that your neighbour doesn’t insist on a boundary fence in the future.
If a neighbour’s tree branches are encroaching on your property, you can trim them back to the boundary line and no further. It is probably best to check with your neighbour and local council first to ensure the tree is not protected. In an unusual incident in Palmerston North, a swimming pool with fencing failed to comply as the neigbouring tree made the swimming area accessible, should the branches be climbed. As a result, the pool had to be drained until a second fence was constructed. Check out the story here.
Do your homework if you’re planning to renovate
If you are planning on carrying out building and repair work, you should check whether you will require consent from the council. Find out more about planning consents for your renovation. Ask your real estate whether the current owners have lodged any applications and the outcome. It will be devastating to buy a property with the intention to extend only to find out that previous applications were rejected. You can do your homework with your local council.
Roaming cats and barking dogs
Your pets are your responsibility and you will be liable for them trespassing onto your neighbour’s property. Cats are exempt and have roaming rights of the neighbourhood. They can choose where they stroll and where to use the bathroom without repercussion. Dogs do not have this nomadic freedom and their barking and mess are the owner’s responsibility. If your dog or your neighbour’s dog is disturbing the peace of the neighbourhood, a complaint can be lodged under The Resource Management Act 1991 which provides various remedies in the case of persistent noise and nuisances.
Check out the neighbours before purchasing a property
When you look around a property, have a glance in your neighbours’ gardens to see if they are well maintained, have roaming animals or trees and fences encroaching onto the property. If you get a chance, speak to the neighbours or ask the real estate. Start off on a good foot and introduce yourself when moving in and inform them of the days and times that there will be a delivery truck so to not cause inconvenience.