Strengthening neighbourhood relationships
Building a good rapport with your neighbours can be a wonderful opportunity to find companionship and support nearby. Working to support your community through advocacy or community leadership can greatly improve your neighbourhood environment and you may be able to ask friendly neighbours to provide help when you need it, such as with moving heavy objects or borrowing tools.
Neighbourly and Neighbourhood Support Groups have been created to connect people nearby. Neighbourly is a local message board where people can raise concerns in their area, advertise garage sales, organise neighbourhood events, and advertise local odd jobs. It is free to join, and you can sign up here. Neighbourhood Support Groups are local initiatives aimed at creating safe and connected communities. Involvement can include meeting with other group members, staying connected by email, hosting neighbourhood barbecues, volunteering in neighbourhood projects, or being a street contact. You can find out more about Neighbourhood Support here.
Neighbours Day Aotearoa is an annual event that is aimed at strengthening communities through family friendly community events such as barbecues, movie nights, beach clean ups, plant swaps, and neighbourhood notes. You can find out more about it at the Neighbours Day website.
Despite positive neighbourly efforts, sometimes disputes between neighbours do occur. Problems with noise, trees, animals, fencing, trespassing, and abuse are common complaints in neighbour disputes. You are allowed to take appropriate actions to rectify these disputes. You can find a list of best approaches and who to contact for each complaint on the Consumer website. You can contact your local council to find out what the by-laws are in your area about noise control, rubbish removal, environmental health inspections, animal control, and property boundaries.
Citizens Advice Bureau covers many frequently asked questions about your rights concerning neighbourhood disputes. You can easily find this here or by searching up key words on their website. Any criminal behaviour such as property damage, violence, or threats must be reported to the Police.
If you have a dispute that cannot be settled through personal communication with your neighbour, you can take your dispute to the Disputes Tribunal. Make sure to keep a record of your complaints including the date, time, and nature of the problem, as well as who you contacted and what their response was. The Disputes Tribunal can settle disputes for claims of up to $30,000 and is legally binding. Disputes are settled in an informal hearing where you and your neighbour have a chance to explain the situation and try to settle it together. If you cannot agree on a decision, the referee of the hearing will decide.
If you need to make a complaint about someone living in a Kāinga Ora Housing New Zealand property, you will need to contact them. You can do this on their website here.
Websites of interest
- The Law Society offers legal information on your rights with neighbours and property
- If you are eligible, you may be able to access free legal advice through Community Law
- Free, confidential, and independent information and advice on a range of issues can be found through Citizens Advice Bureau