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LIMs, PIMs and council files

What’s in a LIM or a PIM, how to get one and find out what else is on the council’s files.

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What's in a LIM?

A Land Information Memorandum (LIM) provides information held by the council about a particular property, which you may not get off the district plan alone.

The information you may get from a LIM will vary between councils. Generally you could expect to find out about:

  • Rates.
  • Land features and environmental issues, such as erosion or flooding.
  • Restrictions on land or building use.
  • Resource consents issued.
  • Potential contamination by hazardous substances.
  • Details about septic tanks and hazardous substances, etc.
  • Storm water or sewage drains.

There may be information about wahi tapu sites (sacred areas) and some councils may provide aerial photographs, building plans and drawings.

The LIM information might help you make the decision about whether to buy the section and whether the price is fair. For instance, if you have to do major earthworks to fix the drainage you might reconsider the price of the section.

How to apply for a LIM

You can apply for a LIM at any time, but it is essential when you are thinking of buying a section.

It can be difficult in times of rapid turnover of real estate to find time to research what you are buying. But you should make getting a satisfactory LIM (and your lawyer’s approval of the LIM contents) a condition of your sale and purchase agreement, allowing yourself enough time to obtain and study it.

To get a LIM you apply to your local council. Ask them for an application form or download it off your council’s website. You may have to provide a copy of the certificate of title and there is a fee which varies depending on the council and the property involved. The council must produce the LIM within 10 working days.

However, just getting the LIM is not necessarily the complete story. The council does not actually do a site inspection to verify the information in the LIM. It is possible the council has not been notified of something that could affect you, or that something got left off the LIM by mistake.

What's in a PIM?

A PIM provides information about the work site that may have an effect on the work. Planning restrictions, the location of stormwater drains and ground conditions are some examples.

It may tell you about:

  • Protection of the land or buildings, for example, by the Historic Places Trust
  • The location of services, such as water and waste systems on the site and adjoining land
  • Land details such as ground stability, geological history, areas that have been filled, or have been unstable or if there is any risk of flooding
  • Permitted footpath crossing points
  • District plan non-compliances

How to apply for a PIM

A PIM can only be applied for by someone who is planning a specific project and may need a building consent (by applying for building consent you will be treated as applying for a PIM also, if you have not already done so). You can apply for a PIM at the preliminary design stage of the project or at the same time as you apply for building consent. If you apply for a building consent without applying for a PIM, your consent application will be treated as including an application for a PIM.

Checking the council’s files

The only way you can be sure you have complete information about the site is to ask to check the council’s files on the property.

You can go into the council’s office, but it might save time if you make an appointment to meet with a planner. Give them the details of the section and ask to see the files for the site. You may have to pay to view any files that have been archived.

In the files, look for permissions or resource consents that allow specific activities. The file should also show up old issues, like complaints made by current or past neighbours in the area. If there is anything of interest, you may be able to make photocopies to take with you.

Ask the planner:

  • How is the site zoned?
  • Are any nearby properties zoned differently?
  • What activities are allowed in the zone?
  • What can the neighbours do that might affect my enjoyment of the site, such as building up and blocking the view?
  • Are there any protected trees on or close to my site?
  • Is there anything in the district plan that may affect the property, such as a proposed motorway?
  • Are there any applications or proposals for neighbouring properties? For example, the quarry down the road may be proposing to increase extraction which could result in more noise and traffic.

This is also a good opportunity to ask about which services (water, power, phone, mobile phone, gas), are located near the property. This could affect where you can build, or could add extra building costs.

If the site has a shared driveway check what type it is (i.e. whether it is a legal right of way), and what your access rights and maintenance responsibilities might be.

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