Hobsonville Point residents can't paint their houses different colours, further develop their properties by adding an extra level or a front-yard deck, change the landscaping, fencing or planting, nor erect front-yard tents or gazebos.
These are some of the rules in place at the upmarket waterfront community on Auckland's northwest fringes, different from many other New Zealand suburbs where property owners are less restricted.
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Yesterday, the Herald reported on how a group of residents broke one of the suburb's rules by airing their dirty laundry - literally. The Hobsonville Point Residents Society said complaints "arrive frequently" about washing being hung out to dry on lines rigged up outside people's homes.
A closer look at the many rules aimed at lifting the village a cut above most suburbs revealed more restrictions at the model waterfront master-planned community on Auckland's northwest fringes.
To ensure a uniform look in precincts, residents can't change exterior colours: "Members shall ensure that unless specifically approved by the residents' society committee, no changes are made to the exterior appearance of the property including building materials, paint colours, garage doors, fences etc."
Plant and fence restrictions are also in force: "No member shall be entitled to undertake any house alterations or landscaping, including fencing, of their developed property."
"Additional pavers, concrete, decking" cannot be laid in the front yard and one resident said front-yard tents and gazebos were banned.
Lighting and noise can't annoy neighbours, external alarms must not cause a nuisance, projectile fireworks can't be discharged from properties, rules exist around rubbish, residents must keep their places well-maintained and lawns mowed and trees trimmed and alterations to homes are banned.
Tents, sheds and caravans can't be in the front yard, heat pump and gas bottle units can't be visible from a street or pathway unless screened. Minimal visibility rules apply to aerials and satellite dishes, temporary windows can only be there for six weeks, rubbish and recycling bins must be out of sight from the street and washing lines should not be visible from a street, right of way or pathway.
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Boats and trailers, machinery and rubbish can't be stored or parked on the front yard and broken-down vehicles are banned.
A resident asked today how enforceable all the rules were and what action would be taken for breaches.
But Tim Jones, a barrister, New Zealand Law Society board member and on the Body Corporate Chairs Group, said incorporated societies could most certainly enforce rules.
Under the Incorporated Societies Act 1908, entities like that at Hobsonville Point had the ability to take action including in court if residents breached rules, he said.
"If you painted your house pink with blue spots and you were unwilling to change it, the society could repaint it and then seek repayment," Jones said, perhaps via a court ruling for costs.
"Such societies can discipline people by penalising them. How they do that depends on what's in the rules of the society," he said, citing one Newmarket example where a society owned a roadway and enforced rules on parking, speeding and banned certain vehicles like boats.
Lawyers should advise buyers of incorporated society properties about the rules at the time of purchase, Jones said.
Joanna Pidgeon, Auckland District Law Society immediate past president, said if an owner repainted incorrectly, a society could get a court order demanding a repaint or it could engage a contractor and seek money from the owner.
"With residents' societies, there are usually encumbrances registered on titles requiring compliance with rules and requiring covenants to be signed by incoming purchasers to comply," she said.
Societies can't go to the Tenancy Tribunal because they were not statute-based under the Unit Titles regime, so they go to the courts.
Covenants are a form of contract for enforcement, she said.
"Some societies provide for other dispute resolution mechanisms such as mediation or arbitration as well."
Societies were usually formed for specific purposes, so if one passed rules outside the boundaries, owners could challenge them, Pidgeon said.
The Hobsonville Point Residents Society lists Professor Errol Haarhoff as its chairman. He is a professor of architecture at Auckland University. The society says it works with the secretary of the Incorporated Society, presently Crockers, to administer the entity and liaise with the controlling member which is developer HLC: Homes, Land, Community.
It advises members on permitted alterations and additions to their homes and handles
inquiries and complaints from members and residents at the point.
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