Slips – responsibilities and actions

Find out what to do if you have been affected by a slip, who might be responsible and what help is available to you.

Is it an emergency?

  • If the slip is causing an immediate safety risk, call 111.
  • If you can smell gas, call 111.
  • If the ground looks like it is in danger of moving or that a slip is about to happen, call our Contact Centre on 04 499 4444.
  • If your electricity is out, call your electricity provider. But if there is a dangerous hazard posed by the electricity network (ie damaged poles or downed / clashing power lines) contact Wellington Electricity directly on 0800 248 148.
  • If you have a broken water pipe - turn off your toby (your main water shut-off valve). In the short term this will at least stop further damage. If you don't know where your toby is, look it up on our water and drainage map, in the Legend you will see that the X shows where the service valve (toby) is located.

Location of the slip

It's important for us to know whether the slip has occurred on public or private land. This helps to determine responsibility and what needs to happen next.

Examples of public land include:

  • road reserve (this is the land around roads that the Council owns to keep the roads and footpaths operating)
  • public roads
  • public footpaths.

Slips on public land

  • If a slip has caused a blockage in a public road or public footpath, call our Contact Centre on 04 499 4444. We will then arrange to clear the debris and get the road or footpath open.
  • If the slip is entirely within Council land and doesn’t cause any damage to private land, then fixing the slip is our responsibility. We’ll assess what action is required.

Slips on private land

  • If the slip is within private property boundary and doesn't cause damage to Council land or assets, then the property owner is entirely responsible for fixing it.
  • Call your insurer for advice and assistance as soon as possible. You should also contact the Earthquake Commission. You may be eligible for financial assistance if the slip is within 8 metre of your property footprint or foundation. Please share any advice from EQC in any subsequent discussions with us.
  • Where a slip spans two or more private properties, you’ll need to agree with your neighbours how to fix the situation.

Slips affecting both public and private land

  • Both parties must be involved in finding a solution if the slip occurs on Council property onto private property or on private property onto Council land. We may or may not be responsible, but the Council can be an affected party as much as the private property owner can be.
  • If you have a driveway, garage, wall, fence, or other private asset on or crossing a road reserve, it should have received council consent or approval and is still your responsibility to maintain and repair. Ask your insurance provider what is covered by road reserve insurance. It will be your duty to put the private asset back on the road reserve.

How to determine your property’s boundaries

Our Property map displays boundaries online. In most cases, the indicative boundary line displayed by the online map is fairly accurate, but in some cases a professional survey may be necessary to pinpoint the exact location of the boundary. As we do not conduct surveys of private properties, you will need to contact a private surveyor to complete this.

Although it is often assumed that a fence marks a land’s legal boundary this is often not the case. What you think is your land may be your neighbour’s or what you think may be your neighbour’s land could be yours.

Big slips can be complex and take time to fix

Big slips can take time to both assess and fix. The process may include some or all of the following:

  • Initial Geotech assessment – this is done when the slip first occurs if we are concerned about the immediate stability of the slip. We do this to assess the best way of clearing the slip.
  • The slip is cleared, the area is made safe, and we monitor the slip to see if there is any additional movement – this may require more geotechnical assessments to confirm.
  • After a while, when the slip face settles and things dry out a bit, we will undertake a review of the slip face. This is when we start to understand a few things like the potential cause of the slip, high level remediation options and start to think about how we progress the remediation.
  • If we decide that some remediation work is required (eg a retaining wall), we then need to factor how this will fit into our existing programme of work – we already spend about $4m to $5m a year on retaining wall work.
  • When we know the priority of the job, we can then programme it in and undertake the design process.
  • The design then goes out to tender so we can get contractors on board and only then will any serious construction work begin.
  • Depending on the size, complexity and priority of the individual situation, this process could be as quick as a few months up to a few years to complete.

Earthquake Commission (EQC) responsibility

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) is a New Zealand Crown entity which provides insurance to residential property and invests in natural disaster research and education. If your home is insured, you may be covered by EQC for a natural landslip. You’ll find a good summary of what’s covered by EQC on its website.

In general, the current EQC advice is that EQCover insures land that is part of your land holding and:

  • is under your home or outbuildings (such as a garage or shed)
  • is within eight metres of your home or outbuildings
  • is part of or supporting the main access way (like the driveway) up to 60 metres from your home.

Cover does not include any artificial surfaces like concrete or asphalt that cover the access way.

Any EQC pay-out is intended to remediate the damage claimed for and it’s important you keep the Council informed of any assistance you receive.

For more information go to the EQC website or call them on 0800 DAMAGE (0800 326 243)