Buying a property? Did you check out the neighbourhood nutcases?
There is nothing like finding out you have a neighbour from hell, after moving in.
First make sure you are not the bad neighbour!
Let’s briefly go through what should you do before choosing to buy a house in a location you are not familiar with:
Cruise the neighbourhood at night
It pays to drive around not only one block but around 4 blocks to learn about your neighbourhood.
Listen for noise level, TV music, machinery
Look for roaming cats and dogs, tidy or over grown lawns. Tidy fenced or unfenced yards.
Look for burning tyres marks on the roads, particularly at intersections – they are certainly a nightmare at 2am when you have work the next day.
Have a chat with the local dairy owner or shops
Ask them about the neighbourhood and if the conversation goes well ask if they know anything about the house for sale and the neighbourhood.
google the address to check out the area. With google maps you can view how tidy backyards or empty lots that looks like landfills.
if you have children or for your own safety check the sex offenders register.
Check the police website
The website can provide the crime level statistics in the area, the local constable will have reports of burglaries and stolen or vandalised cars.
Who you would like to avoid as neighbours, assuming you are not one of them;
for your safety, peaceful enjoyment of life and for the preservation of your property's future value:
The racquet makers:
Screaming: mom, dad, kids, fighting spouses, horn punches and tire squealing drivers, loud music fanatics and late-night partiers.
Boundary fence critics: Someone who trims boundary trees and then sends you the bill.
The slob: The neighbour who enjoys overgrown lawn and leaves trash on their front yard.
The inconsiderate pet owner: the owner who leaves their pets roaming to use the neighbourhood lawns' as toilet. For those who don't know, you can get your pets trained and buy them a litter tray.
The extreme weirdos: Drunks, “teeny” houses, the gang members and drug dealers and the ones who never say hello.
Well, if you are already into this unsavoury situation, try one of these strategies:
Say hello and make time to talk about the issue bothering you.
No finger pointing or accusations; keep to how the problem bothers you and suggest some solutions.
Write them a polite letter – be prepared they might choose not to respond
For animals – you can call the council for animal control – they will probably refer you to the SPCA.
Trash – can cause mice infestations, make a call to your local council for guidance.
For noise call Noise Control, the number should be on your council website. The noise has to be at a certain level for the police to act.
Boundaries, fence and encroachments:
First refer to your title and title plan, if that is too complicate, have a chat with your solicitor.
Here is a tip from NZ District law society:
“An encroachment 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. Your lawyer can advise you about these.”
Of course it will cost you a fee even if you are not the ‘encroacher’
There are several legal remedies available in neighbourhood disputes (exert from https://www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-public/common-legal-issues/disputes-between-your-neighbours:
When the argument is over fences, boundaries or encroachments, the Fencing Act or the Property Law Act applies.
In cases of private nuisance, the court can grant an injunction (an order directing the nuisance to cease) and award damages.
If the activity is contrary to local bylaws or district or regional plans or other regulations, the local council concerned has responsibility to prosecute, but you may still need a lawyer’s assistance to pursue your legal rights.
Neighbourhood disputes are ideally suited to mediation. Your lawyer can suggest a suitable mediator
When you do discuss with your neighbour please assume good intentions and be sympathetic if your neighbour complains. You could also document everything just in case the situation turns sour.
Noise from parties, stereos, power tools, lawnmowers and chainsaws are part and parcel of urban life. But sometimes the volume or timing of the noise makes it illegal.
Being a good neighbour is caring about the whole neighbourhood's health one lives in and it is the main reason a suburb becomes popular and exclusive as most people would like to move into such neighbourhood.
It is good to know that under the Resource Management Act and Health Act owners as well as tenants have a duty to avoid making "unreasonable" or "excessive" noise and creating hazards.