Land Information Memoranda (LIM) Guide
Thinking about a Council LIM Report? Here is all you need to know about this report and what it can do for you!
A Council LIM Report? What is it?
A LIM is a Land Information Memoranda. It's a document that, by law, a Council has to provide for any property within its borough within 10 days of request.
Anyone can request a LIM about any property; you do not have to be the owner, or potential purchaser.
The council that covers the area that the property is in will have a file containing information relating to that house; it's a summary of the content in this file that is contained in the LIM.
A council LIM report can include a lot, or a very small amount, of information depending on the history of the property, where it is, and when and how often there has been council involvement with the property.
Officially a LIM is a document produced by a territorial authority (Council) that contains a summary of any relevant current and historical information held by the council about a particular piece of land or property.
Why should I get a LIM?
If you are putting in an offer on a property, you should make a satisfactory LIM report a condition of the sale. A LIM is very useful in helping you decide whether the land is worth purchasing. From a LIM you can determine whether the property has permits for all its building work, what zoning it has, whether it is free from any restrictions, what proposed local developments may affect the property, and whether the intended use of the land is feasible.
A LIM may contain all sorts of information that can impact significantly on your perception of a house's value. For example, resource consent may have just been issued for a building that will block your view, there may have been a history of flooding or subsidence, the land was previously a landfill site, or alterations to the house may not have a building consent.
What is in a LIM?
A LIM is a comprehensive report containing everything the Council knows about a property or section and can include:
- Valuation data
- Yearly rates payable for the property.
- If there are any unpaid rates.
- Any charges for water.
- Information about Building Permits and Consents for the property.
- Any information in regards to whether it is a protected or historic building, or site, and if there are any protected trees.
- Any Resource Consents issued for the property.
- Any relevant planning issues or planning zones that impact the property.
- Any Resource Consents issued in the immediate neighbourhood.
- Information on subdivisions and developments affecting the property and the immediate area.
- Drainage information relating to both private and public sewer and / or storm water on the property.
- Special land features including potential erosion, avulsion, falling debris, slippage and possible hazardous substances.
- Consents, certificates, notices, orders or requisitions affecting the land or buildings.
- District Plan classifications that relate to the land or buildings.
For further details regarding what a council is required to provide you in a LIM, check out the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.
The LIM will be up-to-date and contain a summary of all the information a council has on its files as of the day it is issued.
I've got my LIM - now what do I do?
It is a good idea to look over the council LIM report with your lawyer when you receive it. Your lawyer's experience and expertise regarding LIMs, combined with your knowledge of the property and your thoughts on what you intend to do with the property, will ensure that the LIM is understood and the full implications of any aspects of the LIM are realised.
Read through the summary pages - potential issues are likely to be obvious here. Then dive into the main contents of the LIM. Look for outstanding financial obligations, resource consents, building permits, and related plans. Check that all issued consents have been signed off. For building work from 1992 onwards, check that a code of compliance certificate has been issued for works completed.
Take your personal knowledge of the property, its buildings, retaining walls, land use and the surrounding properties and the area and consider that against the information contained in the LIM. You should ask questions of the seller and the council if you find differences.
Get expert help if you need it!
Consider what impact the findings of the LIM will have on your enjoyment of the property and the value of the property.
Even a LIM has limits
The council won't report on information that is not relevant nor reliable. There may be a lot of information about a property, but the report will only include what is legally required to be in a LIM. Finally, there could be information regarding the property that the council just doesn't know, so keep this all in mind!
Councils are not legally obliged to hold information relating to building work prior to the Building Act 1991. In older properties it is possible that Council records prior to 1991 are incomplete, and consequently Councils do not accept responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of those records.
Some elements of the property may be excluded from council LIM reports. For example, installations of septic tanks, gas bottles, etc. If these types of installations are on the property you may need to seek expert advice on these items.
Additionally, the council will not carry out a visual inspection of the land or buildings to verify the accuracy of information or determine the current condition of the property. For example, the survey measurements of boundaries may not be accurate on council records. Also, Councils will not show illegal or unauthorised work on the property if it is not known to them.
How much does a LIM cost?
The cost of a LIM varies from council to council, but they generally range from $250-$500 for a residential property. To find out the cost of a LIM, check you local council's website or give them a ring.
A LIM as a condition of sale
If you want a LIM as a condition of sale, you need to state this in your sale and purchase agreement. As a LIM takes up to 10 working days to process, to save stress, you should allow yourself 15 days for satisfying your conditions. This will give you time to apply for the LIM, and time for both you and your lawyer to read the LIM over before deciding about going unconditional.
You may find yourself being pressured to not get a LIM or to reduce the time down to 10 days. Doing this only benefits the real estate agent and the Vendor. You need to do what is right for you. You can always go unconditional earlier if you get your report promptly and are comfortable with proceeding.