Ding-dong over deck do-up

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 12/12/2012
tdn deck stand
ROBERT CHARLES
Bob and Mary Heslop are incensed their neighbour has built a deck, allegedly with no consultation.

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A neighbourhood dispute caused by the building of a deck against the wishes of the other owners in a cross-leased property could have been avoided, says the New Plymouth District Council.

Bob and Mary Heslop, who have lived in one of five semi-detached town houses on Devon St East, Strandon, have been left frustrated and angry that their new next-door neighbours, John and Joan Christiansen, allegedly failed to gain their permission before building a deck on their home.

When approached by the Taranaki Daily News for his comment, Mr Christiansen declined to discuss the disagreement.

"I have absolutely no comment. It is a private civil matter and that's the end of it," Mr Christiansen said.

Mr Heslop said yesterday that under the cross-lease agreement, owners were required to consult with the other lessees and gain their permission before changing the "footprint" of the property.

Mr Christiansen, a real estate agent and principal of Harcourts, had not done so when building the deck, Mr Heslop said.

The effect on their apartment, which overlooks the bowling and croquet greens, was to reduce their view to the west and give them less privacy, Mr Heslop said.

He said Mr Christiansen had the plans drawn up for the deck in September so had had ample time to consult with the other lessees.

"None of the other four owners had known anything before he started building," Mr Heslop said.

The privacy of the owner on the other side, Fay Edwards, who was working in the South Island, was even more affected, Mr Heslop said.

"I've let him know I'm not happy," Ms Edwards said.

Another owner, Brooke Jolly, whose orthodontist surgery is part of the cross-lease said there had been no problems with any of the other owners since his building was constructed in 1983.

New Plymouth District Council customer and regulatory services manager Simon Pickford urged anyone in a cross-lease property to ensure they communicated with their neighbours before building or making alterations of any kind to avoid problems such as those in Strandon.

"It's the same as any regulatory situation, people need to talk to their neighbours first."

In the Strandon case, the council had approved the application in good faith "and the deck went ahead".

Other parties involved in the cross-lease had complained to the council. The council had been asked to put a stop-work in place but was unable to do so.

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"It's a private matter. We don't get involved. We don't have any grounds to stop it."

There was nothing under the Building Act which required councils to ensure other parties in a cross-lease property were informed before approving a building application, Mr Pickford said.

He predicted that as urban property pressures rose and there were more in-fill housing and cross-leased properties in future, such problems would increase.

If agreement wasn't reached no-one won.

The stress would only cause wasted emotional energy and, if taken through the courts, financial pressures.

A lawyer told the paper that a whole range of issues could result if a lessee in a cross-lease property did not first gain consent before doing work on his house.

Filing an injunction in the High Court to halt the building could cost about $2000 while a civil court process could cost anywhere from $10,000 should it end in a trial.

- Taranaki Daily News

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