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What is trespassing?

Trespass Act 1980, ss 2–4

If you own or rent property, you have the right to decide who comes onto it. It’s a criminal offence if a trespasser:

  • refuses to leave your property after you warn them to leave, or
  • returns after you warn them not to return.

For more information about trespass law, see below and see also: “Protests and the general criminal law”.

Warning a trespasser

Trespass Act 1980, s 5

If someone is on your property, you can tell them to leave and to stay off your property.

If someone has trespassed on your property, or if you think it’s likely they will trespass, you can tell them to stay off.

You can deliver the warning verbally or in writing. If you give a written notice, it doesn’t need to say anything special, just that the person isn’t allowed on your property. But because lots of people don’t know that it’s that simple, you might want to use our sample trespass notice below. If you give any notice in writing, you should keep a copy to help show that you have given a warning, in case you need to go to the police later because the trespasser has come back. Alternatively, you could take a picture or recording of yourself giving the notice to the trespasser.

You could copy the sample notice below or collect a form from your local police station which has a section you can fill in and return as proof that you served the notice, in case you need to complain again.

Trespass offences and penalties

Trespass Act 1980, ss 3, 4, 11

If someone has been warned to keep off a property, and they don’t leave or they come back within two years of the warning, that’s a criminal offence. The penalty for trespass offences is a fine of up to $1,000 or a prison term of up to three months.

Sample Trespass Notice

To: [name]

of: [address]

Notice under the Trespass Act 1980

Please take note that in accordance with the above Act I withdraw my consent for you to enter on to my property, [address], for any reason.

Please note that it is an offence against the Trespass Act 1980 if you ignore this warning and enter on to my property within two years after you have received this warning, unless I cancel this notice at an earlier time. You will be liable to a fine of up to $1,000 or up to three months’ imprisonment.

Dated this …… day of ……………… 20 …

Signed …………………………………

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Neighbourhood life

Where to go for more support

General information about neighbourhood issues

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

CAB provides free, confidential and independent information and advice. Your local CAB may be able to help you work your way through a problem with your neighbour.

Website: www.cab.org.nz
Phone: 0800 367 222
Facebook: www.facebook.com/citizensadvicenz

Find your local CAB office: www.cab.org.nz/find-a-cab

Consumer NZ

Consumer NZ provides information on a range of neighbourhood problems.

Website: www.consumer.org.nz/search?query=neighbours
Email: info@consumer.org.nz
Phone: 0800 266 786

Help in Wellington

Downtown Community Ministry (DCM) is the leading social service in Wellington working with people who are experiencing homelessness – in particular, those who are rough sleeping or without shelter.

Website: www.dcm.org.nz
Email: office@dcm.org.nz
Phone: 0800 119 689

Support in Christchurch

The Christchurch City Mission provides emergency beds to people in Christchurch that have nowhere else to go. They also have Whakaora Kāinga transitional housing, which provides communal transitional living.

Website: www.citymission.org.nz/homelessness-and-housing
Email: info@citymission.org.nz
Phone: 0800 787 855
Whakaora Kāinga: www.citymission.org.nz/whakaora-kainga-transitional-housing

Support in Dunedin

Dunedin Night Shelter provides emergency accommodation and a transitional housing programme in Dunedin.

Website: www.dunedinnightshelter.co.nz
Email: info@dunedinnightshelter
Phone: 0800 745 569

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