Plan ahead for farm boundary changes
Now is the time to move quickly if you are considering a change to the farm boundaries before next season. Over the years the subdivision process has become more complex with the Resource Management Act and councils becoming much more risk averse. It is not uncommon for the simplest boundary change to take six months to complete and, if there are legal issues or delays in gaining approvals needed from other parties, there is potential for this to be even longer.
Boundary adjustments, where there are no new titles created, are becoming more common now as a means of subdividing, since many councils have tightened their subdivision rules. However, if there is a chance of creating a new title under the local council's rules, we would always advise you to do that. That way the purchaser has more options in the future for moving this title to another part of the farm or selling the lot separately if his situation changes- and you get more money for it. Some people use these additional titles to create a retirement lot around their house when they eventually sell their farm.
We have seen significant changes to the subdivision rules over the last couple of years and they are still ongoing – the main changes still pending in our area are in Waikato, Waipa and Hauraki. These areas are moving to limit lifestyle subdivision in the rural zones and also to make farming lot sizes much larger.
However, there are still opportunities, particularly when you own a title that hasn't been subdivided in the last ten to fifteen years. Waikato and Matamata-Piako still allow one lifestyle block to be cut off an older rural title but they have restrictions on the size of the parent title.
Most councils are now focussing on specific localities for rural-residential lots, but these are smaller lots with only enough space to run a lawn mower and it wouldn't surprise me if farm animals are not allowed! Other rules still allow some ability to subdivide small agricultural or horticultural lots from rural properties in Matamata-Piako, Western Bay and Thames-Coromandel.
Another opportunity that is presenting itself, often as the only legitimate way to subdivide lifestyle blocks in the rural environment, is the Environmental Lot. These are created by protecting significant ecological features such a stream banks, bush and wetland either on the land that you are subdividing or elsewhere in the District. Some councils allow a new title to be created around a surplus house to facilitate its sale.
So, if you are contemplating any changes to your boundaries or wanting to subdivide for flexibility in the future and to get the best value out of your land, now is the time to act, before it is too late. Feel free to give me a call and discuss your situation.