Apartment & townhouse law to be strengthened

  • Nick Smith
Building and Construction

The Government is proposing reforms to better protect people buying and owning property under the Unit Titles Act, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“We need better property laws to support the change in our cities, where more people are living and investing in townhouses and apartments. The number of households in unit titles is already 145,000, with a value of more than $50 billion. This number is expected to double by 2040.

“An important driver to these reforms is that the scale of unit title developments is increasing. The average complex size currently is only 10, but many new developments have more than 100 units. The responsibilities and finances of body corporates now requires a greater degree of professionalism and regulation.”

Six significant changes are proposed:

  • Better disclosure rules at the time of purchase
  • Strengthening body corporate governance
  • Increasing professionalism of body corporate managers
  • Ensuring proper maintenance plans
  • Variable compliance requirements relating to complex size
  • Improving the accessibility of dispute resolution.

“These reforms have been initiated by the strong advocacy of Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye and a group of property professionals who highlighted inadequacies in the current law in a report presented to me earlier this year.

“This law reform is critical to the future shape of our cities. Getting the planning law right to allow higher density living is an important first step but the development cannot occur without investment. These changes are about increasing the security and confidence people can have in their rights as unit title holders. We want apartment and townhouse living to be an attractive lifestyle and a sound investment.

Consultation on the proposals runs until Friday 3 March 2017. Stakeholder workshops have been organised in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in February. Submissions received during consultation and feedback from the workshops will help inform the final scope of changes to the Unit Titles Act.

“This is a further strand to the Government’s wide-ranging housing reform programme. The new Auckland Unitary Plan, the KiwiSaver HomeStart Scheme, the Crown Land Programme, Special Housing Areas and legislative reforms to the Building, Resource Management and Construction Contracts Acts are all part of a comprehensive plan to address New Zealand’s long-term housing challenges.”