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Property problems: Persuading a neighbour to clean up a section

By senior associate GREG ALLEN and associate BRENDON GILES.

Monday, November 15th 2004, 7:05AM

by The Landlord

Q. One year ago my wife and I bought a residential investment property in Auckland. We have visited it a number of times and have become increasingly concerned about the state of our adjacent neighbour's property. What really worries us is that the lawns are not mowed regularly and may dry over summer and catch fire and put our property and family in danger. What can we do? What action can we take to protect ourselves?

A. There is a number of legal and non-legal ways you can attempt to resolve this problem. Depending on the seriousness of the circumstances you may wish to consider the following options:


1. Talk to your neighbour. From a practical point of view, and it may seem obvious, raising the issue with your neighbour is always a good place to start. If, like your own property, the neighbouring property is an investment property, it is possible the owners are not aware of the current state of the property and it may even be that their tenancy arrangement requires the tenant to keep the property (including the garden and lawns) tidy.

2. Contact your local council. Under the Local Government Act 2002 local councils are empowered to require the occupier or owner of any land (by giving written notice to the property owner) to cut down, eradicate and remove growth (such as broom, gorse and dry grass) and to remove or destroy accumulated refuse or flammable material from properties if they could become a fire hazard. Fire danger is a matter to be determined by the chief executive officer of the local council or an authorised officer of the New Zealand Fire Service.

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