Getting to grips with body corporates

Monday 20 March 2017

Confusion about the workings of body corporates reigns and this has prompted a new watchdog group to swing into action to boost understanding of the sector.

By Miriam Bell

Around 400,000 New Zealanders are estimated to call apartments home and that number is set to grow as the shift to high density living intensifies.

Yet there is a widespread lack of awareness about the workings and complexities of body corporates.

The Strata Community Association New Zealand (SCANZ)* has recently been established to address this issue and give a voice to owners and body corporate managers.

SCANZ president Joanne Barreto said New Zealand’s $50 billion body corporate sector is only growing bigger, but it suffers from a lack of understanding.

“Strata and community title are not common terms in New Zealand.

“We fear that too many apartment and unit owners in this country don’t fully realise their rights and responsibilities when buying into a body corporate.”

She said that as growing numbers of New Zealanders make the move to apartments and units it is important they are aware of both the benefits and the challenges relevant to their situation.

To this end, SCANZ has just released an eBook which aims to explain body corporate complexities and help bust body corporate myths.

It covers what bodies corporate are and how they work, the role of body corporate managers, AGM’s and levies and everyday procedures like who is responsible for putting the rubbish out.

The release of the eBook comes hot on the heels of SCANZ’s launch of New Zealand’s first set of qualification standards for body corporates in February.

Barreto said apartment owners deserve some assurances that ethical, trained professionals are in charge of their properties and funds.

“As it currently stands, anyone can become a strata manager, without needing any training whatsoever.

“That’s opened the door to some cowboys joining the fray and looking to take advantage of their position.”

For this reason, the body corporates sector desperately needs better professionals and a legitimate, accredited employment pathway.

SCANZ aims to help deliver this by rolling out New Zealand’s first ever accreditation course for body corporate managers.

While the course is currently voluntary, Barreto hopes it could become mandatory in the future.

“Mandatory education and training for industry professionals would re-shape the sector - particularly in terms of the trust and confidence owners have in body corporate professionals.”

Tightening up of the apartment sector is on the government’s agenda too, following a campaign on the issue by Auckland MP Nikki Kaye.

Late last year, Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith announced plans to change and strengthen the Unit Titles Act.

*SCANZ is a chapter of Australia’s Strata Community Association but it is tailored to New Zealand’s industry and legislation. Its new eBook is available here.

Read more:

Shake up for apartment laws 

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