Property Focus17 Sep 2019

Here’s some tips on getting it right, and why it’s crucial.

The standard due diligence checklist, whether you’re a buyer or a vendor, usually includes checking the title, finding a building inspector, and obtaining a LIM from the local council. Clearly identifying the boundaries of a property may seem an obvious inclusion on that list, but it’s one that’s often forgotten.

The best way to achieve this is to have the site surveyed by a qualified surveyor.

Boundary lines are one of the most common – and heated – causes of property disputes, whether it’s between buyer and seller, or neighbours.

Often, particularly in rural properties, a fence placement has been agreed by a previous owner’s handshake or "gentlemen’s agreement”, rather than anything that’s actually legally binding. Or, on larger farms with rolling hill blocks, a fence line might follow a ridge line for convenience, and be many metres away from the actual recorded boundary line.

The new owners may be happy to continue with those informal arrangements once the take possession, but it is still important everybody is clear, before settlement, on where the actual boundaries lie.

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) is the gatekeeper of official property boundaries in this country. The organisation operates the cadastre – the official database of a country’s collected land records.

LINZ’s role is to make sure the information in that database is accurate, allowing for speedier consent processes as well as the use of land as security for bank loans.

To do this LINZ runs the secure, online system Landsonline, on which surveyors can search, lodge and update survey plans electronically. Once LINZ is satisfied a lodged plan meets legal requirements, it is "deposited” and a certificate of title (or computer register) is produced. The plan is then an official record within the cadastre.

This online system replaced paper-based survey records system that had operated in various forms in New Zealand since the 1840s. Since September 2007, it has been mandatory to lodge plans electronically through Landonline via e-survey. Surveyors can no longer submit paper plans.

Only licensed cadastral surveyors can carry out cadastral surveys and LINZ closely manages survey standards to ensure the accuracy of its land records.
The Surveyor-General at LINZ, sets the rules, standards and guidelines that professional surveyors must follow.