Section 53 of the Cadastral Survey Act 2002 provides for the Surveyor-General to authorise a licensed cadastral surveyor to enter land to conduct a cadastral survey or install a survey mark. This provision is rarely used, because it is expected that in most cases surveyors will obtain permission from the landowner. Where there are difficulties in obtaining the landowner’s permission, a licensed cadastral surveyor can apply to the Surveyor-General for an authorisation under section 53.
Alternatively, an authority to enter onto land for the purpose of carrying out a survey in relation to a public work can be sought under the Public Works Act 1981, from a Minister of the Crown, a local authority, or a District Court depending on the circumstances.
Without an authorisation issued under section 53 of the Cadastral Survey Act 2002 a surveyor has no more right under the Cadastral Survey Act 2002 to enter private land than any other member of the public and will be subject to the same laws as any other person.
Information when applying for an authorisation
The following information is required from a licensed cadastral surveyor when application is made for an authorisation:
- full name of the licensed cadastral surveyor
- physical address of the property concerned
- appellation of the land concerned
- purpose of the survey and the reason why access to the land is necessary
- events that have led up to the landowner’s refusal to enter the land
- proposed start and end date of the authorisation.
Not a general authority
An authorisation issued under section 53 will permit a named licensed cadastral surveyor to enter and re-enter specified land at reasonable times, with or without any assistants and necessary equipment. A general right of entry to all land as a matter of course is not considered appropriate.
An authorisation extends to the licensed cadastral surveyor's assistants only if they accompany the surveyor.
Entry to buildings not included
An authorisation under section 53 cannot be used to enter a house or other building. That would require a warrant issued by a District Court Judge.
A surveyor authorised to enter land under section 53 must, "if practicable, give reasonable notice to the occupier of the land of the intention to exercise those powers."
The surveyor must produce evidence of their identity and their authorisation when first entering the land if practicable, and “whenever subsequently reasonably requested to do so.”
Misuse of authority
Any person (such as a landowner) who believes that an authority under section 53 has been exercised unreasonably is advised to seek legal advice. They may also make a complaint of professional misconduct with the Cadastral Surveyors Licensing Board.
Sometimes, property owners do not understand why a surveyor may need to access their property and may refuse to give permission. We’ve produced this resource to help surveyors explain why they may need to go on to private property, and what the property owners rights are.