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Sunday 11 December 2016

Getting to grips with the details of the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act

Published 27/09/2011 | 05:00

Works covered by this law reform act include the following:

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•Carrying out works of adjustment, alteration, cutting into or away, decoration, demolition, improvement, lowering, maintenance, raising, renewal, repair, replacement, strengthening or taking down;

•Cutting, treating, or replacing any hedge, tree or shrub;

•Clearing or filling in ditches;

•Ascertaining the course of cables, drains, pipes, sewers, wires or other conduits and clearing, renewing, repairing or replacing them;

•Carrying out inspections, drawing up plans and performing other tasks relating to the points above.

If the person who wishes to carry out the works fails within a reasonable time to make good any damage caused to the adjoining owner as a consequence of the works, the adjoining owner can apply to the district court for an order requiring the damage to be fixed.

It is obvious that proposed works could give rise to serious disagreement between the person who wishes to carry out the job and the adjoining owner. The Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act provides a remedy whereby the person proposing to carry out such works may apply to the district court for an order authorising the carrying out of specified works.

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Order

The district court may then make a 'works order' authorising the carrying out of the works specified on such terms and conditions as the court sees fit.

A 'works order' may authorise the person who wishes to carry out the works to enter onto an adjoining owners' land for any purpose connected with the works.

However, it may equally require the person who wishes to carry out the works to indemnify the adjoining owner for damage, costs and expenses caused by or arising from the works.

Interference

However, a 'works order' may not authorise any permanent interference with or loss of light or other rights relating to the party structure.

It is always in the best interests of all parties to achieve agreement where works are intended to be carried out to a party structure or boundary.

This should include matters such as precisely agreeing in advance what works are intended to be carried out as well as agreeing other practicalities such as the length of time for the work and arranging a suitable time for the works to be carried out.

However, where agreement cannot be reached, the act provides a welcome mechanism to resolve the matter based on defined legislative rules to give more certainty to parties who find themselves involved in such a dispute.

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