Buying a property is a big investment, and the last thing you want to discover after you’ve taken ownership are hidden issues that could cause you problems down the track. That’s why it’s vital to do your homework before you commit to the purchase. See also our article: Before you buy your first home.
This article looks at the Auckland Council Property File and the LIM Report.
The LIM Report
A Land Information Memorandum (LIM) report is a document provided by the local council—in this case, the Auckland Council—that contains important information about a specific property. The LIM report is often obtained by prospective buyers as part of the due diligence process when considering the purchase of a property. Some real estate agents may already have a copy ready for you to view when you express interest in a house, or your lawyer may order one. It provides a comprehensive overview of what the council knows about the property, including a wide range of details that may not be immediately obvious from a physical inspection.
Here are some of the key elements that a LIM report from the Auckland Council might include:
- Zoning Information: Details about the property's zoning can affect the land's use.
- Building Permits and Consents: Information on any building permits or consents issued for the property, including any pending or refused.
- Resource Consents: Information on any resource consents that apply to the property, which could include restrictions on land use.
- Utilities: Information about the location of utilities like water, gas, and electricity connections.
- Hazards: Details about any known hazards on the property, such as flood risks, land contamination, or erosion.
- Rates Information: Information about the property rates, including any unpaid rates.
- Compliance: Information on whether existing buildings on the property comply with the Building Code.
- Restrictions: Any restrictions on the land or buildings, such as covenants or easements.
- Legal Description: The legal description of the land and its boundaries.
- Historical Information: Any available historical information about the property, such as past uses or significant events.
- Public Projects: Information on public works that may affect the property, like planned road construction.
- Other Local Authority Information: Any other information the council holds about the property that could be relevant to a prospective buyer.
Obtaining a LIM report is generally considered a prudent step when purchasing property, as it can reveal critical information that may affect the property's value, usability, or legality. It can also help prospective buyers make an informed decision and potentially avoid costly mistakes.
The Auckland Council Property File
Unlike the Land Information Memorandum (LIM) report, which summarises what the council knows about a specific property, the Auckland Council property file is a more comprehensive collection of documents that provide detailed information about the property's history, construction, and any alterations or improvements made over time. It contains things like the original building plans and the outline of the buildings in relation to the boundary. If there have been changes to the property, the file should also contain copies of any building consents, resource consents, or permissions issued. Approved alterations should have a corresponding CCC (Code Compliance Certificate). The file might also show other information, like complaints made by the neighbours.
If you can see changes to the property that aren’t included in the property file, it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker. You can ask the current owner to apply to the council for a COA (Certificate of Acceptance), although they can decline your request, and there is no guarantee that the council will issue the certificate. If the unconsented changes don’t comply with the building code, the council will issue a Notice to Fix, and once the problems are rectified, a Certificate of Acceptance can be issued. Remember that many lenders will not approve a mortgage on a property with unconsented changes, so you may have to ask the seller to rectify the issues at their expense.
The best way to determine if the property you intend to buy matches the property file is to obtain a copy and then ask your building inspector to review it with a full Innohome building inspection. We can verify if the building matches the file and if any changes that are not listed are likely to comply with the building code and be eligible for a Certificate of Acceptance.
Here's what you can typically expect to find in a Property File from the Auckland Council:
Building Plans and Specifications:
The Property File often contains the original building plans and specifications, giving you a detailed understanding of the property's construction. This can include floor plans, elevations, and sometimes even electrical and plumbing layouts.
Resource and Building Consents:
The file usually includes copies of any resource consents and building consents issued for the property. This can help you understand what changes have been legally made to the property and whether any conditions are attached to those changes.
Code Compliance Certificates:
If any alterations, additions, or significant repairs have been made to the property, the Property File should contain Code Compliance Certificates, indicating that these changes meet the New Zealand Building Code.
The Property File often includes site plans that show the property's boundaries, the position of the building(s) on the property, and sometimes even details like driveways and utility connections.
Information about the property's drainage system, including the location of pipes, drains, and wastewater systems, may also be included.
The file may contain correspondence between the council and the property owner, sometimes providing additional context or information about the property.
Some Property Files include reports from inspections carried out by the council, which can give you an idea of the property's condition at the inspection.
If the property has any heritage listings or is located in a heritage area, this information will usually be included in the Property File.
Licenses and Certificates:
The file may also contain other licenses or certificates related to the property, such as liquor licenses for commercial properties or swimming pool compliance certificates.
Other Legal Documents:
Easements, covenants, or other legal restrictions that apply to the property may also be included in the Property File.
The Property File can be an invaluable resource for prospective buyers, providing a more in-depth look at the property's history and current status. When used with a LIM report and a builder's report they offer a comprehensive view that can help you make a well-informed decision about your property purchase.