Belinda Feek is a NZ Herald reporter

Remuera duplex owner discovers document to halt neighbours' demolition plan

Muhannad Alwahb has a legal standing to immediately halt his neighbours' proposed development in Remuera. Photo / Doug Sherring
Muhannad Alwahb has a legal standing to immediately halt his neighbours' proposed development in Remuera. Photo / Doug Sherring

An Auckland man who has just discovered his neighbours' plan to bowl half of their duplex house has discovered a document which can put a sudden stop to any demolition.

IT consultant Muhannad Alwahb had his world turned upside down on Sunday morning after the owners of his neighbouring duplex unit told him they planned to bowl their half and build a new home.

Mr Alwahb, who also has a PhD in engineering, says the neighbours - Gerard Davis and Sumi King, who live at another property in Remuera - told him he would also have to pay for any repairs to his house after their half is demolished.

Mr Alwahb went into panic mode, worried about what state the excavation work would leave his home in, and thought about taking legal action to get an injunction. However, after sleeping on it, he decided that he couldn't change the council's granting of resource and building consents, so is now thinking about re-modelling his house into something more modern.

However, yesterday he discovered a party wall easement on the title meaning that an obligation falls on the owner of the property who decides to go ahead with any building to repair and reinstate the party wall to a level that is compliant with the building code.

Part of the easement states: "If any maintenance, repair or reinstatement of the party wall has been rendered necessary by the act of one party alone ... then the party at fault or responsible shall bear the whole cost of such work."

More specifically it also bans either neighbour from carrying out any works which may expose the other tenant to the risk of damage, without prior written consent - which Mr Alwahb hasn't given.

John Gray of the Home Owners and Buyers Association [Hobanz] discovered the contents of the easement and said this meant Mr Alwahb had a legal standing to immediately halt Mr Davis and Ms King's proposed development.

Karen Kemp, property lawyer and partner with Anthony Harper, said she was liaising with Mr Alwahb about his options.

"It is our aim to ensure that the security, safety and value of Mr Alwahb's home is preserved. For any homeowner, the simple requirement is that costs incurred because of the actions of another should be borne by that person. We are working with Muhannad to help him resolve the situation, but no demolition work should be carried out in the meantime and we will take immediate action to halt the demolition, if necessary."

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- NZ Herald

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