9 Nov 2015

Boundary problems may prompt compensation

7:30 am on 9 November 2015

Up to 300 Christchurch homeowners may be due compensation for having their property boundaries incorrectly surveyed.

Property owners like Hugo Kristinsson have yet to be informed if they will be compensated or have their boundaries re-surveyed.

Hugo Kristinsson is one of up to 300 property owners affected. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

The information has been revealed to RNZ News and involves some properties that have moved by up to a metre off their original boundaries, as a result of ground movement following the quakes.

Hugo Kristinsson's fence and pizza oven now sits inside a council reserve thanks to the earthquakes which have shifted his property sideways.

"We have moved just over a metre towards the river and to our neighbour's property on the other side.

"It's worrying after all these years, still not knowing the boundaries. But I hope we will get some clarification soon."

Property owners such as Mr Kristinsson have yet to be informed if they will be compensated or have their boundaries re-surveyed.

Problems arose in February when Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), released guidelines stating that the original boundary stood, regardless of where the land may have shifted to in the earthquakes.

Institute of Surveyors president Mark Allan said sticking to the original boundaries, despite where properties had actually moved to, was a mistake.

"Physical boundaries, fences if you like, wouldn't coincide with legal boundaries, so there could be some overlaps and encroachments, you could have problems with set back issues for buildings, no longer complying with Resource Management Act bulk and location requirements, you could have problems with services that were in the road could now technically be inside a property."

Realising the error, LINZ set to work on a law change for Canterbury that allows new boundaries created by the earthquakes to stand. The Canterbury Property Boundaries Bill has had its first reading in Parliament and is open for submissions until the middle of January.

RNZ News has been told told up to 300 homeowners may have already had their boundaries surveyed using LINZ's problematic guidelines.

Deputy chief executive at LINZ, Andrea McDonald, confirmed the figure was correct.

"It is early days and we just need to work through on a case by case basis what the challenges are with any particular conflict and what the best way to resolve it might be.

"If we do need to re-survey it then we will be looking at how we might be able to fund that or compensate people."

A surveyor working in Christchurch, Reece Gardner, said losing even a small amount of land off the title could have major repercussions in terms of a property's value.

"If that 800 metres that you had entitled you to subdivide it into two 400 square metre lots, and suddenly this survey has impacted the size of your section and now you're only 799, and you're no longer entitled to subdivide, then that's a significant loss of right."

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs