Lower Hutt's council is missing out on nearly $80,000 a year in fees from property owners encroaching on public land.
Gardens, fences, garages and drainage reserves spilling over to council land are going mostly uncontrolled, leaving council's pockets tens of thousands of dollars lighter thanks to the unclaimed license fees.
The news comes at a time where council needs every cent, with Mayor Campbell Barry announcing a possible average 7.9 per cent rates rise to tackle a budget deficit.
There are four types of encroachments on council land, according to a draft report given to Hutt City Council's Policy Finance and Strategy Committee.
One of these was pavement encroachment license, which allows a business to use a portion of the pavement outside their premises to set up tables and chairs for their customers to use while dining.
Lower Hutt has seven of these encroachments licensed, but council has identified another 42 that are unlicenced.
"We currently have a minority of ratepayers using public land for their own benefit being subsidised by the majority of ratepayers and those who pay their license fee annually," the report said.
Now council is looking at cracking down on the unpaying parties in a staggered approach, starting with the pavement licences.
At a council workshop in 2018, officers were asked to identify unlicensed areas and develop options for council to consider.
The biggest area for unlicensed encroachment was with gardens, where property owners developed or maintained gardens and fences along the front of their land and partly on the road reserve.
There are 1241 unlicensed garden encroachments in Lower Hutt.
But homeowners with unruly agapanthus bushes need not worry, as the report recommends garden encroachments 10 square metres or less be removed from consideration.
"Not all encroachments are equal and because of this they should be dealt with using a 'one size fits all' approach," the report said.
With smaller encroachments and ones with a legitimate function removed, there remained 547 that should still be licensed.
The recommended approach now is that council focus on ensuring all encroachments are licensed - starting with pavements as a pilot.
Currently council makes $30,000 from these licenses, but the predicted new revenue could be as high as $188,000, or $108,000 when taking size and function criteria into account.
The biggest area to gather revenue was garden encroachments. Even leaving out functional and small garden encroachments, enforcing the licensing fees would push the revenue from $2415 up to $62,905 per year.
The report will go before community boards this month for consideration.