The Importance of LIM Reports

What is a LIM report?

A Land Information Memorandum (LIM) report is a summary report of some of the information held by the local council. The report covers one particular property only – land or house and land.

What is in a LIM report?

A LIM report contains information about such things as slippage and potential flooding risk by way of flooding plains. The presence of possible hazardous substances such as Asbestos or soil contamination by pesticides and insecticides.

Services Plans

The LIM report will also have plans showing the private (relating only to the property – called the As Built Plan) and the public plan showing drainage, stormwater, wastewater, power, gas and other services.

As Built Plan

The As Built Plan is drawn by the registered drainlayer / plumber after the work on the site is done.

Public Utilities Plan

These are from council records. For an example of more information on public utilises for a property go to Auckland Council.

What are Zoning Maps?

All New Zealand is covered by zoning restrictions which dictate what can and cannot be built in a given zone or location. One zone may allow for only one dwelling per 10,000m2 of land if it is zoned as rural for instance. Another zoning may allow for high rise compartments on small pieces of land.

What about Special Restrictions?

A LIM report may show that special restrictions apply to a property. The New Zealand Historic Places Trust may prohibit additions to a historically significant property and may also prevent any radical change to a property for example.

What about Illegal / Unpermitted Building Work?

Before 1st July 1992 only building permits were issued and final inspections by council on completion of building work. After 1st July 1992 the council began issuing a CCC (Code Compliance Certificate) for satisfactory completion of building work.

Obviously if illegal / unpermitted work has been done there will be no building permit or CCC in the LIM report. What if the LIM report shows there is no CCC? If a property has no CCC the bank may well not provide mortgage finance for such a property.

So, What Now?

Providing the building was constructed before 1st July 1992 the council will usually allow an independent third party to provide a report on the property. The person must be suitably qualified. This report will be added to the council file with the councils consent.

The report usually covers the “safe” – i.e. structural work and “sanitary” i.e. the plumbing and drainage. It also usually gives a professional opinion as to whether the work has been done to a satisfactory standard. The standard of work would need to be consistent with the building requirements in place at the time of construction.

What about a Missing CCC?

If the building work had been done after 1st of July 1992, the date after which CCC were issued, the council inspectors must inspect the property themselves.

Any work they deem necessary will need to be done and when complete to their satisfaction they may issue a certificate of acceptance (COA) which is added to the properties file. Banks would normally provide finance if a third-party report or certificate of acceptance is provided.

What else is in a LIM report?

Any unpaid rates will be recorded in a LIM report. Remember if a council is not aware that illegal or unpermitted work has been done on a property this will not show up in a LIM report. It is a good idea to get a home inspection which would spot any un-workman like and therefore probably unpermitted work.

Road Widening and Other Changes

The LIM report will show if there are planned road widening that may effect the property. Legally land may be taken by the council for such purposes. The owner will be compensated but are compelled to sell, whether they want to or not.

The LIM may show the building has to be demolished for road widening because of flood risk or other issues.

What does a LIM Report not Contain?

The LIM report will not contain the building plans and specifications for any building. The council usually (should) have this information but it is not provided as part of a LIM report.

For the detailed building plans and specifications (what materials were used and how) you will need the Property File. This was previously called the Property Bag. The cost is normally around $100 for this and is supplied as a USB stick.

So, what does a LIM Report Cost?

The price charged by councils for a LIM report varies depending on the council but is usually between $200 – $300. By statute the council has 10 working days to provide a requested LIM report. For an extra charge (typically about $100 more) an urgent LIM can be obtained within 2-3 days.

It’s a bit like Disneyland – pay extra and go to the front of the que.

Who should get a LIM Report?

Anyone who is buying a house, flat, unit or apartment would be very advised to get a LIM report. The time to get a LIM report is before a buyer is unconditionally committed to a purchase.

A satisfactory LIM report can be made a condition of the sale and purchase agreement for the property. The cost to correct problems could be very high so it is best to check before going unconditional on a property purchase. As the saying goes buyer beware, so order a LIM and be aware.

What about a Building Inspection Report?

As well as a LIM it is certainly advisable to get a professional Home Inspection Report. A LIM report does not give any information about the present condition of a property.

There could be a lot of expensive work required to bring a property up to standard. A lack of maintenance over many years may be to blame. All buyers needs to be aware of what they are buying.

Summary

A LIM (Land Information Memorandum) is a report prepared by the local council. The LIM report contains some of the important information they have on file regarding a particular property.  Drainage, flooding risk, land slippage risk and soil contamination is shown in a LIM report.

Illegal building work and potential road widening may also be shown on a LIM report. What can and cannot be done with a property is shown on the zoning maps. Every buyer of a property would be strongly advised to get an up to date LIM report. Making the purchase conditional upon a satisfactory LIM report is just good sense.