Concerns or Complaints ( PDF 104kb )

If you have a concern about Building Consent services or property related neighbourhood activities then please read the following information.

Concerns about Building Consent Services

You have the right to appeal any decision the Building Consent Authority (Council Building Unit) has made, or complain about any building control function the Building Consent Authority (your local Council) undertakes, and to have the complaint managed.

What is a building control function?

A concern in relation to building control is a concern about:

  • Meeting statutory time frames
  • Lodgement or vetting of Building Consent applications
  • Processing of Building Consent applications
  • Inspection of work under construction
  • Issuing a Notice to Fix
  • Issuing of Code Compliance Certificates
  • Issuing Compliance Schedules
  • Provision of information in relation to a Building Consent
  • Building fees and charges
  • Legislative or Building Code requirements

Lodging a Concern

If you would like to lodge a concern, please do so in writing to the Building Manager of your local Council. You may also visit them in person (the concern must also be accompanied in writing). You will need to provide the following information:

  • Date incident occurred.
  • Nature of complaint (for example guidance information, vetting, lodgement, inspection, Notice to Fix, Code Compliance Certificate or Compliance Schedule).
  • Copies of any supporting information (if applicable).
  • Relationship (customer, neighbour, regulator, or stakeholder).

All complainants will be responded to within 72 hours of the receipt of the concern being lodged, and action will be taken within 10 working days of receipt of concern, unless a request for further information is made.

What can I do if I do not agree with the outcome?

If you do not agree with the outcome you may request a review of the decision. All appeals must be made in writing setting out the reasons why you disagree with the decision and should be addressed to the Building Manager of your local Council. All appeals will be responded to within 10 working days.

If you are still unhappy or choose to use an alternative route to settle a matter of doubt or dispute, you may apply to the Building System Performance group of MBIE for a Determination. A Determination is a binding decision made by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to solve disputes or questions about the rules that apply to buildings, how buildings are used, building accessibility, and health and safety. Please visit the Building Performance (MBIE) website if you would like further information on this service.

[ Back to top ]

Concerns about Property / Neighbourhood Activities

As a property owner, the law gives you the right to the ordinary use and enjoyment of your land. But it is important to remember that your next door neighbour has the same rights. Being a good neighbour means minimising the possibility of creating a nuisance in your neighbourhood. A nuisance is an activity that could annoy your neighbours, e.g. barking dogs, loud stereos, or parking frequently in front of your neighbour's driveway. There are laws in place, some enforced by Councils and others by individuals through civil legal actions, to ensure that nuisances are controlled.

Ideally, you and your neighbour will be able to resolve any problem by discussing it together. However, if necessary, the law may be able to help resolve the matter. While the law provides a remedy in many instances, it does not cover every case in which disagreements arise between neighbours. If you and your neighbour can't agree on what to do, several courses of action can be taken such as mediation, arbitration, or your case taken to the Disputes Tribunal. A lawyer can advise you about your rights and any remedy available to protect you from your neighbour's conduct.

Getting More Information and Help

  • Illegal Building Work: Any construction of new buildings, alteration, demolition or maintenance of existing buildings must comply with the Building Act 2004, Building Regulations and Building Code. Usually a Building Consent issued by the local Council is needed. A Building Consent is different from a Resource Consent, although both may be required. Neighbours cannot complain if the proper Building Consent has been issued and complied with, but if Building Consent has not been obtained, the Council can issue a notice requiring the Owner to rectify the work (this can include removal). Examples of illegal building work may be a garden shed or a carport located too close to a boundary fence. For further information contact your local Council.

 

  • Dangerous or Insanitary Buildings: The Building Act 2004 requires all Councils to address issues associated with dangerous or insanitary buildings, the way in which individual Territorial Authorities approach this requirement may vary according to local circumstances.

A building is dangerous if -

a) in the ordinary course of events (excluding the occurrence of an earthquake), the building is likely to cause injury or death (whether by collapse or otherwise) to any persons in it or to persons on other property; or damage to other property; or
b) in the event of fire, injury or death to any persons in the building or to persons on other property is likely because of fire hazard or the occupancy of the building.

For the purpose of determining whether a building is dangerous, a Council may seek advice from members of the New Zealand Fire Service who have been notified to the Council by the Fire Service National Commander as being competent to give advice; and if the advice is sought, must have due regard to the advice.

A building is insanitary if the building -

a) is offensive or likely to be injurious to health because of how it is situated or constructed; or it is in a state of disrepair; or
b) has insufficient or defective provisions against moisture penetration so as to cause dampness in the building or in any adjoining building; or
c) does not have a supply of potable water that is adequate for its intended use; or does not have sanitary facilities that are adequate for its intended use.

  • Swimming Pools: Swimming pool fences (including fences or building walls that form part of a swimming pool fence) must comply with clause F9 of the NZ Building Code and also the Building Act 2004. (Refer to Pool Fencing for more information).
  • Stormwater / Water Runoff: The Council will investigate stormwater issues when they arise from work that has or should have had a Building Consent, or results from overflow from the street. Otherwise, stormwater is a private matter, please contact Citizens Advice Bureau. In general, the responsibility of natural stormwater flows must be accepted by property owners. Additional artificial flows such as those generated by re-contouring land or development (such as paving or landscaping) should be contained within the property which generates them, but for further information contact the Water & Wastewater Unit of your local Council.
  • Boundary Encroachment: An encroachment can occur when a building or a fence is over the boundary. This is technically a trespass for which the encroaching owner is legally responsible, whether or not they erected the building or fence. The Court has certain powers to help in the case of encroachments. Seek advice from your lawyer or local Citizens Advice Bureau.
  • Fences: Boundary fences between private properties are a civil matter under the Fencing Act 1978. The Council has no jurisdiction over disputes relating to boundary fences under this Act. Fences that are over 2.5 metres in height require a Building Consent. Seek advice from your lawyer or local Citizens Advice Bureau. If your boundary fence is shared with Council property, contact your local Council. (Refer to Fences and Retaining Walls for more information). Neighbourhood Support has a fact sheet on Fences and Neighbours available from their website www.ns.org.nz.
  • Retaining Walls: A Building Consent is required for any retaining wall that is: higher than 1.5 metres, or less than 1.5 metres but is load-bearing (carrying a 'surcharge' or external load such as a parking area or weight of a bank above the wall). If you believe a retaining wall has been constructed illegally, seek advice from your local Council. (Refer to Fences and Retaining Walls for more information).
  • Fires: In some areas fires are permitted during certain times of the year, and in others a permit is required, especially over the summer months. The fire must be controlled and smoke, ash and odour must not cause a nuisance to neighbours. Residents should try and minimise nuisance to neighbours in these areas by advising them beforehand and checking wind directions. For information on fire permits and bans, and bylaws, or to report nuisance fires contact the Environmental Health Unit of your local Council. Further information on bylaws can be found in the Councils District Plan available from their website.
  • Trees: Under the Property Law Amendment Act 1975 property owners are responsible for any nuisance or damage their trees cause to neighbours. If there are trees on private land causing problems with shading, leaf fall or roots blocking drains, then you will have to deal directly with the property owner as the Council cannot assist in this area.  
    • Seek advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau, or from the Trees and Power Lines fact sheet available from www.egcomplaints.co.nz
    • Some trees may require trimming by your local Council if they hang over the road / footpath and cause problems for traffic or pedestrians. In this instance or for information about protected trees contact the Planning Unit of your local Council.
  • Health Concerns: Health issues regarding properties such as effluent discharges (e.g. from a septic tank), or similar health concerns should also be reported to Council for further investigation, and action, if necessary. Please note that not all hazard or nuisance issues are Council's responsibility - in some cases we will refer you to the appropriate agency. Examples could be dilapidated buildings, excess mould on rental properties, or long dry grass posing a fire hazard during periods of high fire risk.

Further Information

[ Back to top

Page last updated 2017-03-17

Hauraki Matamata Piako Waitomo Otorohanga Waipa Waikato Hamilton