What is the legal effect and process of dealing with a council notice placed on my property following a flood or natural disaster?

Post last updated:
February 20, 2023

The recent flooding and cyclone events in Auckland and New Zealand have caused significant damage to many homes and properties. One of the challenges you may be facing is how to address stickers or placards (which are legal notices) that have been placed on your property by your local council. This article discusses what the stickers mean, their legal basis and a process to ensure that the stickers are legally removed.

What legal authority does the council have to place a sticker on my property?

As a property owner you might question the authority that council officials have to complete a brief assessment of your home before issuing a notice restricting how you use your own property.

Legal authority to place notices on buildings arises firstly from the Building Act 2004 and secondly, when a state of emergency has been declared, through the wider powers of the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 (CDEM Act 2002). With the designation of a state of emergency declared regionally in Northland, Auckland, Tairāwhiti, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Hawkes Bay and now nationally too, the National Controller under the CDEM Act has the authority to deploy officials to complete ‘Rapid Building Assessments’.

Rapid Building Assessments take up to 20 minutes, and will be completed by a trained building assessor, who will assess your home or building for existing or potential hazards. The focus of these assessments is to make sure you and others are safe. The assessor will look at the inside and outside of your home or building to check the damage caused. This may also include areas not directly affecting your built structures which are on your property such as a rear yard or cliff area where a landslide has occurred. Following such a review the responsible person may place a coloured sticker on your home or building. Note it is an offence to simply remove a sticker without council approval.

What do the Stickers Mean?

There are three types of stickers or placards which may have been issued by council to indicate the safety and structural integrity of a building or property after a flood or other damage. 

  1. Red - Entry Prohibited 

The building or property cannot be used and entry is prohibited because it has sustained moderate or heavy damage and poses a significant risk to health or life (for example if it is unstable due to a landslide). If access is needed for an insurance assessor or to retrieve personal items, you need permission from the local council compliance team. We suggest you follow the process below to work through the removal of a red sticker.

  1. Yellow - Restricted Access 

The building or property may have sustained moderate damage and access is restricted. This generally means either some identified areas of the building or property pose a significant hazard and cannot be used, or that the public cannot enter except under supervision for a limited time on essential business. This could include emergency or assessment purposes, for example to remove critical business records or valuables. We suggest you follow the process below to work through the removal of a yellow sticker.

  1. White - Can be used

The building or property may have suffered little or no damage and can be used. However, it doesn't necessarily mean the building is safe, there could be unseen damage. If your building has received a white sticker, speak to your insurer about any further assistance you would like. White stickers will expire after 21 days and accordingly you will not need to work through any process for the removal of a white sticker.

What is the Process to Remove a Yellow or Red sticker?

We suggest the following approach to dealing damage to your property and legal removal of a yellow or red council sticker:

  1. Document damage at your home or property through photos and videos (only if it is safe to be at the property and you have accessed it in accordance with the requirements noted above).

  1. Engage with insurers to co-ordinate what repairs are required (if any). If you have suffered a landslide which is within eight metres of your home or outbuildings you may also have coverage from the Earthquake Commission (EQC). 

  1. Arrange for repairs to be completed by suitably qualified professionals.

  1. Keep records of work completed and time spent by professionals who have acted on your home or property.

  1. Compile records of completed works and submit them to your local council in a report. 

  1. Council will decide if a reassessment site-visit is required.

  1. If council is satisfied that the property no longer poses a risk and that works have been appropriately completed it will provide approval (e.g. Auckland Council will provide a letter) granting removal of the red or yellow sticker. 

It's important to note that the process for removing a yellow or red sticker after damage may vary depending on the local council and the severity of the damage. It's recommended to contact the council directly for more specific information on their requirements and processes. 

If you want a professional advisor on your side to help navigate the process and legal issues with your property, get in touch with us by completing the form below.


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