Property Briefs

Property Briefs

Unit Titles Act 2010: are you complying?

A unit title is a form of property ownership where you own your unit, but the common areas are owned by the body corporate. This ownership structure is common in high-rise apartment blocks.

In smaller unit title developments, all owners are likely to be members of the body corporate committee; in larger developments the body corporate committee is appointed by the owners. An annual levy is paid and the body corporate committee manages and maintains the property, and the common areas, on your behalf (depending on the body corporate rules).

Many unit title owners are unaware that the Unit Titles Act places significant compliance obligations on the body corporate, as well as the owners of each unit. Regardless of whether there are 20 units or two, the obligations are the same. These obligations include:

  • Having body corporate rules
  • Retaining written records of the body corporate decisions
  • Establishing and updating a long-term maintenance plan, and
  • Having separate and identifiable operating expenses and long-term maintenance accounts.

Healthy Homes Standards: what you need to know

If you are a unit title owner and you are unsure about the way your body corporate operates, there is some basic information here. For more detail relating to your particular situation, we’re happy to talk with you about your specific obligations and responsibilities.

Becoming law in 2017, the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act establishes regulations to improve the quality of rental housing in New Zealand.

Following public consultation in 2018, the Healthy Homes Standards Regulations were approved by Cabinet on 13 May; you can find them here. The compliance timeframes in the regulations require rentals to comply with the regulations in all tenancies entered into after 1 July 2021 and all rentals will need to comply by 1 July 2024.

The regulations include requirements to:

  • Provide heating in any living room; this heat source must be capable of heating that room to 18°C
  • Ensure insulation either meets the 2008 Building Code or has a minimum thickness of 120mm
  • Provide suitable extractor fans in bathrooms and any rooms with an indoor cooktop, and
  • Have a ground moisture barrier if the rental has an enclosed subfloor, ie: you cannot install underfloor insulation.

Damage to your rental: who foots the bill?

If you are unsure of how you must comply, we can talk you through what you need to do to so you can beat the rush come 2021.

We all know that if a rental is damaged due to fair wear and tear, that the landlord is responsible for the repair costs as part of general maintenance. Fair wear and tear includes things like worn carpet, appliances breaking and scuff marks on the walls.

Some landlords, however, don’t realise they are also responsible for paying for other damage. For example:

  • If a property is damaged by a natural disaster the landlord is expected to cover the damage, even if the landlord doesn’t have insurance
  • Where the rental is damaged and the landlord’s insurance policy will cover the damage, the landlord is responsible for organising the repairs. The exceptions to this are where the damage was intentional, and resulted in an imprisonable offence or where the tenant (or their guest) has caused the insurance policy to be voided, and
  • The landlord is also responsible for any excess and cannot pass this on to their tenant.

It is good practice to regularly check your insurance policy and to make sure your tenants are aware of any restrictions. If you are renting, ask if your landlord has insurance and what the terms of the policy are. If a dispute arises about damage to your rental, we can help you with this.