Unit Titles Bill makes management easier

Tuesday 30 June 2009

The Unit Titles Bill currently before Parliament's Social Services committee will make setting up unit title developments easier and more flexible.

By Vicki Holder

Addressing the Wellington Property Investors' Association yesterday, Minister of Housing, Phil Heatley says the amended bill "will also streamline and simplify the way multi-unit developments are managed."

Heatley says the original 1972 act is not adequate for today's large-scale, complex developments.

It is estimated that within 50 years, half a million people in the Auckland region will be living in apartments, townhouses and high-rise buildings, and therefore "it is important legislation in this area meets the needs of people today and in the years to come."

He says legislation in the bill will manage mixed-use developments better. A block with retail units at street level and apartments above could be managed by separate bodies corporate but be a member of a head body corporate with over-all responsibility for the building.

To prevent unit owners who don't vote from holding up decision-making processes, the bill will no longer require unanimity. Three-quarters of title holders will need to agree for decisions to be made.

Heatley says the body corporate will own the common property which means it is responsible for the management and upkeep of all common areas. The new bill also requires bodies corporate to develop long-term maintenance plans to protect the value of the property over the long term.

Dispute resolution will be faster and cheaper as disputes will be dealt with through mediation or adjudication in the Tenancy Tribunal in the first instance, rather than solely through the courts.

And, purchasers will be given the chance to view body corporate rules, audited accounts and maintenance accounts.

The committee is due to report to Parliament on its deliberations by September 5, 2009. Submissions for the amended Residential Tenancies Act also close this Friday, July 3.

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