The neighbours have old cars on their section and it’s a real eyesore. What can I do about it?
If they don't present a threat to your helath (e.g. they don't smell bad and aren't leaning dangerously onto public or other people's property), then your neighbour is probably not breaking any council bylaws, regulations or laws. If you are really upset by the cars, then all you can do is try to talk to your neighbour.
If your neighbour is accumulating rubbish on their property, or items which could be a danger to other people or their property, it might be considered a nuisance under the Health Act or the Resource Management Act. You can complain to your local council, who will assess the situation and can issue an abatement notice to the neighbour.
What do I do when the neighbours' rubbish keeps endng up on my property?
Your neighbours’ rubbish could be ending up on your property because it is not properly secured. It’s best to talk to your neighbours about it first as they may not be aware of the problem. If they refuse to do anything to keep their rubbish secured (or are intentionally dumping rubbish onto your property), you can report it to your local council.
Local councils are responsible for enforcing the Litter Act which makes it an offence for anyone to leave litter in any public place or on private land without the consent of its occupier. You’ll need to provide details such as the address where the littering is occurring, a description of the rubbish and evidence of who the offender is. You can find more information by contacting your local council or checking their website.
Can I put a fence up without talking to my neighbour?
If you think a fence needs to be built along the boundary line of your property, you should talk to your neighbour about where you think it should go, the sort of fence you want, and how much the fence will cost. Under the Fencing Act, you are required to give notice to your neighbour before you commence any works. If you fail to give the correct notice, your neighbour will not be required to contribute half of the costs of the boundary fence.
If the fence is well within your property then you do not have to get your neighbour’s permission so long as the fence complies with council regulations and you cover all costs. However, if you build your fence very close to the boundary, your neighbour can take the issue to the District Court and the Court could decide that you were trying to get around your responsibilities under the Act - you could be ordered to demolish your fence.
Do I need a building consent for a fence?
You do not usually need a building consent for your fence if it is less than two metres high. Consult your local council if you are unsure.
Who is responsible for the repair of boundary fences?
Generally the occupiers of the properties sharing a boundary, share the responsibility for work on a boundary fence (unless there are contracts or covenants with contrary agreements, or if the parties previously agreed to other conditions). An occupier of a property is the property's owner, or someone who is not the owner but has a tenancy of at least ten years.
If the fence is damaged or destroyed by one party, then that party has to pay for all of the repairs. If one party wants to repair the fence out of their own pocket, then they can.
What should I do if my neighbour and I have a disagreement over our
It’s always best to try to resolve it with your neighbour by discussing it with them. If you can’t reach an agreement, you can serve them with a Fencing Notice (see the next question). For further advice, call your local Citizens Advice Bureau on 0800 FOR CAB or 0800 367 222.
What is a Fencing Notice?
A fencing notice is a formal proposal to your neighbour which describes the fencing work you would like done (the cost of which you want your neighbour to contribute). It has to specify the boundary along which work is to be done, the nature of the work (e.g. if it’s a new fence, what it will look like) and the materials used. The notice has to state an estimate of the cost of the work, and how those costs are to be shared (which depends on the circumstances of your agreement).
It must also tell your neighbour that they have 21 days to object (see the next question), and that if they don’t object within this period they will be deemed to have consented to the work.
You can download a sample Fencing Notice from the LawAccess website or view the sample on the NZ Legislation website.
What should I do if my neighbour objects to my proposal in the Fencing Notice?
Your neighbour has 21 days to give you a Cross-Notice if they object to any of the proposals in the Fencing Notice. The Cross-Notice outlines their objections and suggests counter-proposals. If you and your neighbour cannot reach an agreement within 21 days, then the matter can be resolved in the Disputes Tribunal or the District Court.
I share a driveway with two other houses, but I never use it. Do I still have to pay a third of the cost of repairing it?
Generally, when a driveway gives access to two or more properties, then the responsibility for its maintenance is shared jointly by the owners of those properties. If there is an easement document registered on your property’s Certificate of Title, it may specify details of the responsibilities for maintenance of the driveway.
More information about your rights and obligations regarding shared driveways is on our Shared driveways page.
Who pays for repairs to the drain going through my property to my neighbour’s?
Your neighbour probably has an ‘easement’ which allows their drain to go through your property. Your respective certificates of title would show whether such an easement exists.
In this case, you are not responsible for the maintenance and repair of the drain – but you can’t do anything which would prevent your neighbour’s use of the drain, and you would be obliged to allow access to your property if necessary to repair the drain.
On the other hand, if the drain becomes damaged and it is caused by something (such as tree roots) on your property, then you would be expected to pay some or all of the cost of the repairs.
Who is responsible for the cost of repairing a shared private drain?
A private drain is one which passes through or serves one or more private properties. The drain isn’t necessarily physically located on the owner’s property. According to the Local Government Act, the owners of the properties served by a private drain are the owners of the drain. This means that those property owners may have to contribute towards the cost of any necessary repairs to the drain, up to and including where it connects to the public line.
If a private drain servicing more than one property needs repair, then the owners of those properties may have to share the cost of the repairs.
It is worth checking with your local authority in case there are bylaws relating to how the cost of repairs should be shared between the owners of a shared private drain in your area. Otherwise it would be up to the owners to negotiate how the cost of the repairs will be shared, taking into consideration :
- the location of the repair work,
- whether one of the properties contributed to the damage requiring repair, and
- which properties will benefit from the repair.
For example, if the repair work is done on a section of the drain which goes to your neighbour’s property but not yours, so that you are not affected by the damage nor the repair, then you would not expect to have to pay for any of the cost of the repairs.
If you and your neighbour are in dispute over how the cost of repairs is shared - or whether it should be shared - then either party can apply to the Disputes Tribunal for a decision.