Can I subdivide my land?

To be able to subdivide your land, big or small, you need to meet the requirements of the Council’s District Plan. Amongst other things, it details what is allowed to take place with regard to land development within the confines of the City or District. Depending on the complexity of the subdivision the Regional Council, New Zealand Transport Authority, Heritage NZ and local Iwi (to name just a few) may also have to be consulted and may have certain requirements around land development in your area. Under the Resource Management Act 1991 all subdivisions require resource consent and this is the first step in the subdivision process. Just because you don’t meet all the rules and requirements in the District Plan does not automatically mean you can not subdivide, it just means there will be more hoops to jump through! The best first step for any one wanting the definitive answer to this question is for us to undertake a feasibility report on the subdivision. This allows us to prepare indicative development plans, discuss with the Council planners and engineers, obtain costings for the construction work and prepare a very detailed report and quote. Sometimes the answer to ‘can I subdivide my land?’ could be a simple yes, however there is a lot more to think about when embarking on this type of project and we can outline for you the risks and rewards for your development. Click here for more information on our feasibility reports or contact us to discuss further.

How long does the subdivision process take?

The answer this this question depends on how big the subdivision is, where it’s located and how much engineering work is required. As a very broad rule of thumb – for a 2 lot urban subdivision, cutting off your back section, we allow 9 – 12 months from instruction to obtaining title. The subdivision process can be broken down in to 4 main parts: obtaining subdivision consent from the Council, undertaking engineering design and installing new services and access, the legal survey which includes placing new boundary pegs, and finally sign off from Council and obtaining the new titles from Land Information New Zealand. Each of these stages has varying degrees of complexity depending on your project. For a detailed timeline specific to your project please contact us.

How much will it cost to subdivide?

It is very hard to put a generic figure around subdivision costs as every job is unique and depends on a number of factors: subdivision size, location of your property, Council requirements, engineering requirements. In broad terms you will need to pay for resource consent planning, engineering design and construction, legal survey and Council Compliance. There are not only fees from the consultants but also Council fees, Land Information New Zealand fees and Solicitor fees. These all vary greatly depending on the area we are working in and the size of the subdivision. We can prepare a comprehensive quote for your project which will detail all fees associated, when to pay them and who to. To discuss your project and request a quote please contact us.

I can’t find my boundary pegs and need to know where my boundary is?

This is a common question we get all the time. Depending on the age of your property (when it was first subdivided) the legal boundary pegs may no longer be there. Even if it’s a relatively modern subdivision the pegs may have been removed when earthworks or building has subsequently taken place. The existing occupation on the ‘boundary’ such as fences and walls may not necessarily be accurate and it is risky to rely on these as delineation of your legal boundary. The only way you can ascertain where the legal boundary is is by employing a Licensed Cadastral Surveyor. The surveyor can come to site and either locate and verify the original pegs or if they are not there can place new ones. People normally need to know where their boundary is for the purposes of erecting a fence, building and alterations, selling the property or a neighbour dispute. We can help with what ever your requirement is.

I need a topographical contour plan, what does this mean?

This type of plan is commonly requested by architects or designers in order for them to be able to accurately design your new house, garage, alterations etc. This type of plan accurately details all features on your property, Council services, and levels of the existing ground. The information is shown in relation to the legal property boundary and then forms the basis of design plans. We also supply this information digitally to the end user for ease, speed and accuracy for them.

Do I need resource consent to remove a tree/build a garage/undertake earthworks on my own land?

The requirement for a resource consent to undertake certain land related activities depends entirely on the scope of the job and whether what you intend to do is outside the District Plan rules for your area. For example, under most District Plans there is an allowance for how much earthworks you can undertake in a residential area. If you intend on doing more than what’s allowed then you need a resource consent. The application for a resource consent will need to detail exactly what you intend to do, what adverse effects this may have on the surrounding properties, area, town etc and how you intend to mitigate the non-conformities you will be creating. The application is reviewed by Council and they will either grant or decline the application. For many people the degree of non conformity is minor, i.e they want to build a garage closer than what is permitted to a boundary. In these cases neighbours consent will be required as part of the resource consent application. If you are unsure about whether your activity requires consent, check out our links page which has links to the District Plans around the Wellington Region and Wairarapa areas or call us to discuss further. We can help you will all aspects of Resource Management Planning and have close relationships with all Councils in the areas we work.

I require a copy of my property title and the plans, can you help?

We have full access to all property information including plans, titles and instruments (easements, covenants, consent notices etc). If you require any of these documents for your property give us a call. Most of this information is held online with Land Information New Zealand meaning we can get you what you require relatively quickly! There is a small charge for obtaining these documents – we will always let you know the charge when you enquire.

My title is limited, what does this mean?

In New Zealand the Crown guarantees titles to land however in some circumstances very old titles have limitations placed on them with regard to the area and boundary dimensions. The Crown does not guarantee the area of these titles and reflects the fact that the title has not be sufficiently surveyed to guarantee the area or dimensions. The reasons for this are historic and does not change the day to day use of your property however in some circumstances you may require a surveyor to undertake an uplifting of these limitations. For example when you are selling your property, when you need to know where your legal boundary is or when you are developing your land. We can help you if you have questions about this type of title. Contact us today.

What is a cross lease property?

Cross leases were a popular form of ‘subdivision’ created by lawyers dating back to the 1960’s through to the 1980’s. The rationale behind this system of land development was that the creation of cross-leases was not considered to be a subdivision and were therefore protected from rigorous Council requirements for subdivisions. The cross lease system was particularly useful for small developments and the cost advantages of shared drainage and common spaces made it attractive to developers. The main advantages in cross lease developments were all but removed with the introduction of the Resource Management Act 1991 and these types of developments came to an end.

A cross lease is where a number of people own an undivided share in a piece of land and the homes that they build on the land are leased from the other land-owners (normally for a term of 999 years). The houses are usually flats or townhouses. The implications of being on a cross lease are that, when you are making major structural changes to your property or making changes that could affect the flats plan on the certificate of title, then as well as approaching the local authority, you’ll need the other owners in the cross lease to provide their written approval. Another disadvantage is the decision making process around common area (access, outdoor amenity areas etc) must be made in consultation with the other owners and all must be in agreement.

When buying or selling a cross lease property the “flats plan” must accurately reflect what is physically on the ground. If it does not (i.e there are alterations on a house, such as garages and conservatories, that are not shown and the footprint is now different) then the “flats plan” is considered defective. This is a particular issue at time of sale and there are normally two options for the vendor. 1. Update the “flats plan” themselves or 2. Enter into negotiations with the purchaser, where the purchaser agrees to fix the flats plan however this will normally lead to a reduction in the house price. The purchaser, in certain circumstances, can object to a cross lease title on the grounds that the “flats plan” is not accurate. This is called “requisitioning the title” and allows the purchaser the right to cancel the agreement if the vendor does not agree to rectify the title. At the 11th hour of a sale this is the last thing you want to crop up!

Another option open to owners of cross lease properties is to convert them to fee simple titles. When we have a situation of having to upgrade the current “flats plan” to depict an addition, garage etc, it is sometimes better to go the extra mile and convert fully to fee simple. When we look at converting a cross lease property to fee simple there are a number of things we have to consider including compliance with the current District Plan for the area the property is located. The process is reasonably long and can be expensive. It follows the same steps as any type of subdivision and all the other owners in the cross lease must agree. Most Councils will view this as an existing situation however will still impose critical subdivision requirements where they feel appropriate. Services may be required to be separated and or upgraded to current standards. The access (vehicle crossing and shared driveway) will most likely have to be upgraded. These items can be costly in the overall scheme however upgrading a cross lease title to fee simple title will generally increase the value of a property. As in all situations it’s best to undertake full due diligence before proceeding with the conversion process.

At The Surveying Company we undertake many cross lease to fee simple conversions and updates of flats plans. We encourage proactively changing to fee simple titles so that all owners can fully control, protect and manage their individual asset. New cross lease developments are now a thing of the past and where we have multi unit developments, unit titles are usually the best way to deal with those.

cross lease property

Can you look after my complete property development from start to finish?

We definitely can! We understand that some people like to be completely hands off with their projects and therefore we have the skills and personnel to carry your project through from start to finish. We work closely with other skilled consultants in the land development industry who we trust and know will ensure the project is completed on time, on budget and hassle free!

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