No Complaints From The Neighbours

As Freddy sits down to one of his favourite afternoon teas of Belgium biscuits and coffee, he opens the mail.  Just then Pebbles, Freddy’s lawyer daughter, walks into the kitchen. 

“Anything exciting in the mail Dad?” she asks. 

“Well,” said Freddy, “it’s good that you have arrived just now because I was going to call you to see what you think about this letter I have received from Georgina who owns the land bordering on the southeast end of the farm.  Georgina has given up farming to become a developer and now wants to subdivide her land into lifestyle sections.  I always knew this would happen because we are so close to the edge of town.

“I don’t mind if Georgina subdivides the land.  It might even increase the value of my farm but I am concerned that the new home owners might cause problems for me if they don’t like the smells and noises produced by my farming activities,” said Freddy. 

“Well Dad, you can, as a condition for consenting to the subdivision, require the developer to enter into a ‘no complaints covenant’”, said Pebbles. 

“A no complaints covenant is an agreement that will prevent Georgina as the owner or occupier of neighbouring land from complaining about the effects of your farming activities. The agreement will put restrictions on Georgina preventing her from taking action against you as owner/occupier of the effects-producing site.  These restrictions might involve preventing Georgina from:

  • suing for nuisance;
  • taking enforcement action under the Resource Management Act 1991;
  • opposing, or making a submission on an application by you for a resource consent to carry on existing or new effects-producing activities; or
  • funding any of these actions.

“In order to ensure a no complaints covenant will be enforceable against a nearby owner, both the nearby owner and effects-producing landowner must freely consent to its terms.

“This no complaints covenant can include a clause providing for the covenant to be registered on the title of the nearby land so that it binds subsequent purchasers of that land.  This means that once the no complaints covenant is registered on the title of Georgina’s land it will also bind anyone who purchases the subdivided sections.

“If Georgina attempts to on-sell the land before the covenant is registered, you will be entitled to lodge a caveat on the title which will prevent her from selling the land until the covenant is registered and subsequent purchasers are bound,” said Pebbles. 

“Of course, no complaints covenants cannot restrict members of the public from taking enforcement action, making complaints or submitting on a resource consent application. However, they are a useful tool for farmers (and other landowners whose land houses effects-producing activities) to enable them to carry out their business without constant threat of complaint from neighbours,” said Pebbles.

“Thanks Pebbles, that is just what I need,” said Freddy.  “I will call Georgina and tell her that I will only agree to the subdivision if she agrees to a no complaints covenant being registered on the title of her land,” said Freddy.  “Now where are some more of those Belgium biscuits?”

The content of this document is necessarily general and readers should seek specific advice on particular matters and not rely solely on this document. 

If you would like more information on any of the topics in this document, please contact your usual Auld Brewer Mazengarb & McEwen adviser. 


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Marie Callander