mayor wants stronger powers to deal with derelict houses
Friday 30 June 2014
Rotorua mayor wants stronger powers to deal with derelict houses
Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick wants legislation strengthened so councils can require derelict homes to be cleaned up and made safe, or be demolished.
The problem of derelict, unsightly and potentially dangerous homes is one Rotorua District Council has been grappling with for a number of years.
Mrs Chadwick has written to mayors and chief executives of other councils across the country seeking support for legislative change. She said that under current law it can be a long and costly process to prove that a building is in such a bad state of repair that it should be fixed or demolished.
“There is an extremely high threshold that must be met before the courts will make judgement against a landowner.
“Our view is that a possible solution to this issue would be the inclusion of a definition of derelict sites and buildings in the Building Act. This would enable councils to include such properties in their own Dangerous and Insanitary Buildings policies so they can respond to those issues in a timely and cost-effective manner.”
In the past Rotorua District Council officers have used a multi-faceted approach in dealing with derelict houses. Their first step is always to try and work with land owners to get them to clean up their properties, and undertake necessary repairs to make them safe.
However such attempts are often ignored and the council is faced with heading to court to commence a long and invariably expensive process that can drag on for many years.
Mrs Chadwick said she had already received informal expressions of support from a number of councils who have confirmed similar frustrations in their towns and cities. She said if reasonable support for her stance is forthcoming Rotorua District Council would join forces with other councils and Local Government New Zealand to advocate to central government for changes to legislation.
“One of the key goals of our Rotorua 2030 vision is about building resilient communities and providing liveable and safe neighbourhoods. Stronger legal authority to more effectively deal with unsightly, dangerous and derelict buildings will enable us to make some inroads into this important goal for our community.”