Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Property Pitfalls


Over the last 25 years, Wanaka has expanded extensively.  At one stage, it was one of the fastest-growing towns in Australasia.  Maybe it still is.  This  has meant  a huge demand for residential property and this in turn has put pressure on zoning, infrastructure and development.

Sections within subdivisions have sold out even before they came on title and in some instances, even before resource consent was granted — meaning that much greater care became necessary.

At Wanaka law, we have acted for subdividers and purchasers.  We are familiar with almost all major subdivisions — having either prepared or reviewed the memorials registered against the various titles.

Our experience tells us that there are very few simple conveyancing transactions and, in most cases, particular care and expertise is necessary in order to ensure the protection of our clients.

This is the first in a number of articles relating to conveyancing in the Southern Lakes area.  We deal with title problems and the need for expert assistance


We often hear people say that conveyancing is simple, just a matter of filling in forms. Form filling may get your name on the title, but you may end up wishing that it wasn’t, and that your purchase money was still in your bank account, not someone else’s.

When you are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, you want to be sure the property you buy is free of any problems and that title restrictions do not inhibit your use of the land.

A title search is essential when buying property. Over the years we have built up a sound knowledge of property in the Wanaka area. It is rare to find property that is not subject to covenants or easements, or both. Some of these covenants and easement can be the source of a lot of problems.

We have acted for many people who have purchased property only to find out that there have been problems. We have experienced :

  1. A covenant on the title that restricted building to one house per lot created by the subdivision. The land was further subdivided. Because of the covenant, only one section could be built on.
  2. Rural land that had been subdivided, but easements had not been put in place to ensure that every lot had access to water.
  3. Unformed legal roads were stopped and amalgamated with adjoining titles without ensuring that easements were created for the services that ran through that land.
  4. Easements running down one side of a property boundary magically jumping the fence
  5. Water tanks that were restricted, by easement instrument, to serving three lots and which ended up serving water to 5 or more lots following subdivision
  6. A property operated as a bed and breakfast had a covenant prohibiting commercial use
  7. Unit title developments with unenforceable rules.
  8. Houses built in breach of height restrictions
  9. A house built on the wrong title.
  10. Rights of way where one owner has to pay to fix damage caused by another owner because of deficiencies in the easement document.
  11. An expensive subdivision where the subdivider and that the Council certified that all appropriate infrastructural services were in place only to find that there was no electricity.

These are only some of the issues with which we have had to deal or of which we have become aware.  They are not problems which typify the district.  Most of them have been fixed but there are still many traps for the unwary.

Before buying property, we recommend you talk to us. We can recommend clauses for your purchase contract that will ensure that you are not bound to purchase property which you will regret owning. The chances are that we have personal knowledge of the subdivision and the reasons for the various covenants.

We can also make sure that you are aware how these restrictions may affect you.