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Being A Considerate Resident

Living close to other District residents sometimes requires a bit of give and take. But what can you reasonably expect of each other?

Being a considerate means minimising the possibility of starting a nuisance in your neighbourhood. This is anything that could annoy your neighbours, such as barking dogs, loud stereos, or frequently parking in front of your neighbour’s driveway.

This information is designed to assist you with tips on how to resolve the situations that arise most often.

We hope this information helps you build positive relationships with your neighbours and, ultimately, create a stronger community. If you have any questions about the information, please contact the Manawatū District Council on 06 323 0000 or email public@mdc.govt.nz.

Approaching neighbours

Often the best way to address a problem is to take the personal approach, and talk directly with your neighbour about your concerns. How an issue is approached will often determine the outcome.

Your neighbours may not be aware that their behaviour is disturbing you, and raising the issue directly with them offers them a chance to put it right. To improve your chances of getting a positive result:

  • Remain calm and polite
  • Talk about the problem, rather than making personal comments
  • Discuss solutions
  • If the issue affects other neighbours, take them for support

Getting into heated arguments isn't advisable, as the situation can escalate quickly beyond just a nuisance. If your neighbour becomes aggressive, walk away.

If you feel unsafe or unable to approach your neighbour, you can leave a note or write a letter. If the behaviour continues despite the efforts of you and your neighbours, it may help to seek mediation services. You can contact the Citizens Advice Bureau for information about community mediation services available.

Creating evidence trails

Before involving the Council or the police, gather evidence to present to them as proof of the situation or the types of disturbances you are experiencing. If you have to involve the authorities, being able to show them a record of the extent of the situation or nuisance your neighbours are causing, as well as what you have done to tackle the situation amicably, is likely to help justify their involvement.

To create an evidence trail of a disturbance – for example, excess noise – note down the time of a disturbance, its duration and its nature. If there is a reason for the noise at that time, such as a dog barking because it is locked outside at night, note this down too. Also record any actions you have taken to try to resolve the situation.

To create an evidence trail of an ongoing situation – for example, a fence encroachment – keep notes of discussions or communications you have had with your neighbour.

Council assistance

The Council responds to varied types of neighbourhood issues. The section provides a list of common issues the Council deals with and a general guide on the Council’s approach to issues that may occur in any neighbourhood in the district.

What if the Council cannot help?

There are several legal remedies available in neighbourhood disputes. When the argument is about fences, boundaries or encroachments, the Fencing Act or the Property Law Act may apply. In some cases of private nuisance, the court can grant an order directing the nuisance to cease and in cases award damages.

Other agencies that may be able to help are:

  • Horizons Regional Council, which administers regional plans (air, land, coast and freshwater). Its officers handle complaints about pollution, dust, odour, animal pests and plant pests. Contact 0508 800 800.
  • The Department of Labour deals with certain hazard issues that relate to places of work (which can include home occupations).
  • The Ministry of Health can be involved when activities endanger public health.
  • The New Zealand Fire Service deals with fire hazards.
  • The New Zealand Police deals with unacceptable or threatening behaviour or illegal activities.
  • The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) assists in providing information on almost any issue.

Using mediation and legal services

Accessing mediation can be useful for you and your neighbours if you are unable to resolve the situation between yourselves.

Mediation is about having an independent neutral person to offer a fair and equal discussion on issues. Both parties would need to agree between themselves to undergo mediation and to choose a mediator they both view as impartial.

Mediators use appropriate techniques and skills to improve dialogue between both parties, aiming to help them reach an agreement (with concrete results) on the disputed matter. It is important when approaching any mediation service that both parties make the approach. You could approach either the CAB or the police to request mediation, engage lawyers for each party, or seek an independent mediator

Police assistance

The police are responsible for reducing crime and enhancing community safety.

The police aim to work in partnerships to build safer communities. Community policing sees the police and their partners working innovatively at a local level, identifying crime and safety concerns that trouble us and the way we live.

When you need police assistance, call 105 or call your local police station.

In an emergency, dial 111.

Contact the police if you see:

  • Crime, assault, theft, intimidation, disorder, threats, etc.
  • Reckless driving
  • Illegal activities
  • Anything which poses a risk to life or property

Dial 111 if you are witnessing a crime actually happening. The sooner you report crime or a safety problem, the better the chance to solve the case or prevent an incident from occurring. Call 105 for a non-emergency (stolen car, damage etc)

The police can also help you with a past event or a non-emergency situation.

I think my neighbour is running a business from their garage. Can they do that?

Businesses can operate from a property in a residential area but must meet the same environmental standards that apply to residential activities. This will limit noise, traffic and signage. If you believe that an activity does not meet the standards, you should first discuss your concerns with the Council. You may be asked to confirm your observations in writing if further investigations are needed.

Stormwater

What can I do if my neighbour’s stormwater comes through my property?

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. In general, 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. You may need to seek legal advice.

Swimming pools

Is my neighbour’s swimming pool securely fenced?

All private swimming pools must be registered with the Council and have child-proof fencing to the standards required by the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987. It is the owner’s responsibility to do this, or to keep the pool empty. There are potentially serious consequences for property owners who do not have compliant fencing.

The Council’s Building Inspection team looks at each registered pool every three years and can require inadequate fencing to be fixed. The officer can provide general information on how you can make your pool comply with the law.