I've had a landslip on my urban property

FAQs and information for landslips on urban properties

The August 2022 weather event caused numerous landslips to occur in the Nelson Tasman region. We know that many of these landslips have caused damage to property as well as impacted roads and infrastructure.   

We understand that if a landslip has impacted your property that you will have questions about responsibility and how to remediate the land as quickly and as safely as possible. While each situation needs to be looked at separately as different circumstances may apply, the information below offers some general points to consider.    

This is intended to provide high-level information. We encourage homeowners experiencing land instability issues to seek advice specific to their circumstances.   

Who is responsible? 

Generally speaking, there is a duty on landowners to manage hazards such as landslides occurring on their land, irrespective of whether the hazard is natural or human made. This can trigger a responsibility for the landowner to manage that hazard, for example, to prevent it from interfering with neighbouring property. 

However, when a hazard arises from natural causes, such as the recent weather event, that responsibility would usually only be triggered if landowners were either aware of the hazard or were negligent or reckless in relation to that hazard prior to the event. This means that a neighbouring landowner may not automatically have an obligation to repair damage to your land caused by a landslip from their property, even if that landslip is impacting your property.  

Your circumstances are unique, so please seek advice and support if you are unsure. Your insurer will be able to advise and guide you through this process.  

If the slip originated on Nelson City Council land? 

We are working our way through assessing all damage that has occurred on Council-owned land and are prioritising site visits on the basis of severity. We are working to visit all slips, but this process will take some time. If you are concerned, please discuss with your insurer.  

What should I do first? 

If you have not already done so, call your insurance company to let them know you may have a claim.  

Your insurer will assess, manage, and decide your entire claim – including the EQCover portion on behalf of Toka Tū Ake (EQC) – giving you one point of contact. EQCover insures your home and some areas of your residential land against loss or damage from natural disasters like landslips and earthquakes. It also insures your residential land (within limits) against storm and flood damage.  

If you have natural disaster damage and are unsure who your private insurer is, or who to notify, call 0800 DAMAGE (326 423).    

Do not touch the slip until it has been assessed by your insurer, as this may affect your claim.  

What if I don’t have insurance? 

If you need urgent assistance because you have no house or contents insurance, it would be best to contact either the Ministry for Social Development (MSD) or the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) to see what advice they can offer. MSD can be reached on msd.govt.nz or by phone on 0800 559 009. The local CAB office is at 9 Paru Paru Road, Nelson or you can call them on 03 548 2117 or visit their website cab.org.nz 

If you have no insurer and wish to engage your own geotechnical engineer, ask for a Professional Engineering Geologist (with PEngGeol registration) or Geotechnical Engineer (with CPEng registration).  

Why do I need a geotechnical expert? 

Urban areas can be complex, with properties close together and many underground services, including power lines. There is no one solution to remediating slips so that the land is stable in future events. Solutions could involve improving drainage, retaining the bank, or planting. It is best to get this assessed by a professional, as there may be issues you can’t see. Do not remove material directly at the base of the slip without expert advice, it may be supporting part of the slope or slip. 

I want to start remediating the slip, what do I need to do?  

If you want to get people to undertake work on your property, you will need to inform your insurer and let Council know before commencing any work as building consent and/or resource consent (see below) may be required. Some work may be exempt from requiring a building consent. For information on building work that does not require a building consent and general building consent enquiries, please visit the Nelson City Council website page nelson.govt.nz/building-work-exempt-from-consent or phone 03 546 0200.  

It is important that any work is done in liaison with Council and in conjunction with appropriate experts and professionals. This could be clearing of debris, further detailed assessments of the building infrastructure network (piped services), ground repairs or remedial works. In addition to the information noted above: 

  • Before clearing landslide/slip debris, you should seek the advice of a geotechnical engineer. 
  • Before any removal or repairs to the building structure, retaining walls, demolition or remediation, you must seek advice of a building professional or structural engineer (your insurer will help you decide this). 
  • Check your water supply is in place and working and check if there is damage to stormwater pipes. Is there any indication of damage to sewer pipes on your land? If in doubt relating to your home’s piped infrastructure (water, sewerage or stormwater), please seek advice from a registered plumber/drain layer or discuss with your insurer.  
  • Check your electricity connection is in safe working order. If you have any concerns, please check with a registered electrician. 

If you have other questions, please call Nelson City Council on 03 546 0200 or email customer.service@ncc.govt.nz. We will help where we can. 

Please note: before any works or demolition, be aware of any live power sources, (check with Network Tasman Limited by calling 0800 508 098) and the potential for asbestos in buildings. If the building was constructed prior to 2000 there is potential for asbestos to be present in the building. This should be safely located and removed prior to any demolition, to avoid contamination of the property. See WorkSafe information at worksafe.govt.nz/topic-and-industry/asbestos.   

Once work has been undertaken, then you can contact Nelson City Council to request an assessment to determine if the risks have been sufficiently reduced for the placard colour to be changed. Please email customer.service@ncc.govt.nz or call 03 546 0200 to book an inspection.  

Do I need resource consent to remediate a slip? 

That will depend on the nature of the remediation work. If the work on your property includes earthworks (cut or fill) and adding any structure, then you may need a resource consent to be compliant with the Nelson Resource Management Plan. The general earthworks rule (REr61) (3.8MB PDF) will apply, and depending on the location of your property, for example if it is in the Tāhunanui slump zone or in an area with specific land management zones, other rules may also apply. Call Council’s duty planner 03 546 0200 or a planning consultant to determine what’s needed.   

How long will it take?  

We are trying to streamline the consent process as much as possible given the circumstances, but we do need to make sure that any work done ensures land stability and prevents further sedimentation of our waterways.  

What should I cover in my resource consent application?  

In situations where it is determined that your works require a resource consent, please include August 2022 weather event remediation works within the description of the activity and provide a report from the geotechnical expert with your completed resource consent application form. Please identify when works are expected to start so we can have the consent issued in time.  

Do I need resource consent for works in or near streams? 

Flood debris including litter, vegetation, and trees can be removed without the need to obtain resource consent. Replanting along the margins of streams is allowed without resource consent as long as no pest plants are planted and no willow is planted within 5m of the waterbody.  

Please note: earthworks of any height or depth within 10m of the river or stream bank will require resource consent.  

Works in the stream bed/banks or channel to mitigate flooding risk to properties may require resource consent. Experts will need to be engaged to report on what needs to occur to protect property and the stream habitat or stream dynamics. Council may be able to approve temporary measures until the permanent solution is designed and consented. Please contact the duty planner on 03 546 0200  to discuss your situation.  

Need more information on how to apply for a resource consent? 

See Council’s website nelson.govt.nz/apply-for-resource-consent, and please phone 03 546 0200 to make an appointment with the duty planner if you need further assistance.