Information for Canterbury property owners

This section provides information to help Canterbury property owners understand the law for locating property boundaries in Christchurch and how they may be affected.

The Canterbury Property Boundaries and Related Matters Act 2016 (the Act)

What’s going on here?

The Canterbury earthquakes caused some land to spread, contract or slip sideways. This created uncertainty in the location of some boundaries. As a result it is not always clear if the boundaries still coincide with physical features on the property such as fences.

Why was the Act necessary?

It was difficult for surveyors to reconcile the old law with the actual position of the boundaries on the ground because of the earthquake-related land movement. In particular, surveyors found it difficult to identify and interpret physical evidence of boundaries in a way that was consistent with the principle that legal property boundaries are fixed and do not move with land movement. The new law created certainty by introducing the principle that boundaries moved with the earthquake-related movement (the ‘boundaries moved’ principle).

How many property owners are likely to be affected?

Most property owners’ boundaries will be where they are expected to be as evidenced by physical features such as fences.

There is a possibility boundary conflicts will occur if you or your neighbours had a survey undertaken after the earthquakes that was not consistent with the new ‘boundaries moved’ principle of the Act.

What is LINZ doing to manage boundary conflicts?

LINZ has developed guidance for surveyors on boundary conflicts in greater Christchurch that can be viewed at Guidance for surveyors on boundary conflicts in greater Christchurch. Where there are boundary conflicts, LINZ will work with surveyors, lawyers and property owners to manage them on a case-by-case basis.

Does the Act apply to earthquakes that happen after enactment?

The Act applies to all earthquakes and aftershocks in Canterbury from 4 September 2010 to 13 February 2022.

What are the implications of the Act for EQC settlements?

The Act is unlikely to have a material impact on EQC claims and settlements.

Does the Act apply to the Residential Red Zone land?

Yes, the Act applies equally to Residential Red Zone properties. However, it has no relationship to the Crown offer to buy the land or compensate owners.

Why doesn’t the legislation apply to the rest of New Zealand?

Land movement on the scale that occurred in Canterbury is unique. This solution might not be appropriate for earthquakes in other parts of the country. However, the Government has asked LINZ to look into this once the new legislation has been in place for a while.

Which areas are most affected by ground movement?

The eastern suburbs of Christchurch are the areas of Canterbury most affected by land movement, as shown on the surface movement map.

The map doesn’t reflect individual property movements. It also doesn’t include red zone areas because very little post-quake surveying has taken place in these parts and we don’t have sufficient data.

Affected property

Has my boundary moved?

If the landmarks, such as fences, buildings and pre-earthquake survey pegs are where you would expect them to be, it is likely your boundary is where it should be even if your land has moved. This is because the Act provides that boundaries moved with land movement.

Does it matter if my boundary has moved?

For most people, no. This is because your neighbours’ boundaries will also have followed the movement of the land.

What is a boundary conflict?

Conflict in this case refers to a difference between a boundary’s location as determined by survey done in line with the ‘boundaries moved’ principle of the Act and a survey that wasn’t.

Will there be a conflict with my neighbours’ surveyed boundary?

There is a possibility of conflict if either you or your neighbours had a property survey done since the earthquakes that was not in line with the ‘boundaries moved’ principle of the Act.

How do I identify if there is conflict with my neighbours’ boundary?

A boundary conflict may become apparent when some work is required on your property, or your neighbour’s property, that requires a survey to be undertaken. In this situation, or where a survey was undertaken before the Act came into force, LINZ will work with surveyors to manage conflicts on a case-by-case basis.

What if my property is now smaller because of ground movement?

Our analysis shows that the vast majority of properties will be the same size and shape but will be in a slightly different location, for example, a property could have moved 20cm in one direction.

Will this have an impact on the value of my property?

We don’t expect that the new law will affect property values as it aligns ‘legal’ boundaries with ‘physical’ boundaries such as fences and walls.

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