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Shared Driveways in NZ: Know Your Legal Rights and Avoid Property Disputes
8 August, 2023 | Duncan Lang
Shared driveways are extremely common in New Zealand. Unfortunately, this places them in the centre of many property disputes. If you live on a property with a shared driveway or are looking to buy a property with a shared driveway, it is important to know your rights and obligations. There are many types of shared driveways in New Zealand, which are as follows.
Right of Way Easement
Shared driveways are often called ‘rights of way’. This name refers to the most commonly used method of forming a shared driveway, by granting a right of way easement. This right of way allows one property owner to pass over another property owner’s land. The rights and obligations of the affected property can be found by obtaining a copy of the registered easement certificate/instrument.
Most right of way easements refer to Schedule 5 of the Property Law Act 2007 (“the Act”) and the Land Transfer Regulations 2002 (“LTA”). These laws set out the implied rules and obligations. The LTA states that the cost of repair and maintenance must be shared equally. The Act states that each party must make ‘reasonable contributions’, this could mean whichever owner uses the driveway more should pay more towards its repair and maintenance.
For example, the owner of the rear property would pay more as they use a larger portion of the shared driveway. Both the Act and Schedule contain rules that prevent either owner from obstructing the right of way. When investigating a right of way, it is crucial to obtain the easement certificate/instrument as it may contain its own set of specific rules and obligations.
If you live on a cross-lease property with a shared driveway the Memorandum of Lease document should set out your rights and obligations. The driveway would most likely be defined as common area and usually, the lease documentation will say that the cost of repair and maintenance is equally shared.
In certain developments a separate Lot is allocated for a shared driveway. All the owners required to use this shared driveway will own a portion of the Lot with their own property. In most circumstances, the rights and obligations are covered by the Act and each owner must make ‘reasonable contributions’ to the repair and maintenance.
Unit Title – Body Corporate
Similar to a cross-lease in this case, shared driveways are referred to as common areas in a unit title development. The body corporate would be responsible for collecting levies from each owner which would ultimately contribute to the upkeep and maintenance of the shared driveway. The rules that govern the use of the shared driveway will be included in the body corporate rules.
Empower yourself with the right knowledge and guidance when it comes to shared driveways and property matters. Don’t let uncertainties linger, as addressing these issues promptly is crucial to safeguarding your property investment and maintaining peaceful coexistence with your neighbours.
Experienced property dispute lawyer, Duncan Lang, is here to help you navigate the legal intricacies and find swift resolutions. Whether you’re caught in a dispute or seeking clarity about your property’s rights and obligations, Duncan’s expertise is at your service.
Contact Litigation Assistant, Mikayla Sagar to set up an appointment with Duncan and get expert advice to assist your situation.