A large West Auckland house which has been a fire-gutted derelict for nearly 20 months has been described by house-proud neighbours as a glaring example of the need for Auckland Council to crack down on unkempt and nuisance properties.
Eight people were rescued from the Oratia house in a September 2013 fire but it was not rebuilt and was sold 11 months ago as a development site for three or four units.
Sonja Garelja was one of many readers who contacted the Herald after it said the council was considering a new bylaw to enforce standards of property maintenance and avoid nuisance from messy neighbours.
She drives past the "burned-out shell and eyesore" four times a day on the road leading to the West Coast beaches and the Waitakere Ranges.
The house was next to the Oratia Bowling Club which was used for sport, functions and funerals and was hired out by film crews for locations.
"There should be a bylaw regarding how long a burned-out property can be left as is without being demolished or cleared away," she said.
Michelle Marks, who lives across the road, said it should have been levelled after the fire. "But it's overgrown, there's rats all the time coming around now, in our front yard and they go over to all our houses."
Neighbour Jean Bewick said the property was becoming "an absolute tip" with people dropping off bottles and rubbish there. She had also been concerned before the gate was padlocked that children would go in.
Torched buildings and their allure for homeless and youth have been a concern of fire safety officers.
One of the property's two co-owners spoke to the Herald yesterday, but did not wish to be named.
The woman, who lives in Pt Chevalier, acknowledged the property was not nice to look at, but said they were working to clear it as soon as possible.
"We're waiting for building consent before we take it down."
She did not wish to say what plans they had for the section, but said they were hoping to have it demolished within the next two to three months.
Last year, seven complaints came from the Manukau area which had no regulation to deal with them.
By October, the council proposes to bring in a bylaw to cover the whole of Auckland. The aim is to protect neighbours from nuisance or health and safety risks by requiring an occupier or owner to abate any nuisance.
Council regulatory and bylaws committee chairman Calum Penrose said the present rules lacked teeth.
People had expressed concern that their properties were devalued because a neighbouring landowner did not maintain the property.
But bylaws and compliance manager Max Wilde said the bylaw would not cover a property's effect on the look of a neighbourhood.
Additional reporting: Vaimoana Tapaleao