Halt to apartment law reform plan

There’ll be no immediate reforms to apartment law after the Housing Minister declined to adopt a new Unit Titles Bill drafted by two National MPs.

Tuesday, November 27th 2018

National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye last month asked Housing Minister Phil Twyford to adopt their Unit Titles (Strengthening Body Corporate Governance and Other Matters) Amendment Bill.

The Bill aims to strengthen the existing law in areas like pre-contract disclosure, record keeping of body corporates and better management of conflicts of interests and proxy votes.

However, after considering the draft Bill, Twyford has decided not to progress with the legislation as a Government Bill.

In a letter to Collins and Kaye he says further work is needed to make the necessary amendments to the Bill to achieve the full set of results officials have recommended.

He does say that the draft Bill has some merit, reflects some of the issues from the Unit Titles Act Review completed in 2017, and encourages Collins and Kaye to submit the Bill as a Members Bill.

But Collins and Kaye, who say the Bill has huge support from the public, property and legal industry, say Twyford’s decision is a missed opportunity and comes down to playing politics.

They say the issues stated by the Minister as needing work could have been raised in Select Committee as the reality is no Bill goes to Select Committee in a perfect form.

The legislation is about ensuring homeowners don’t end up with defective buildings, in disputes and with substandard information about what they are buying into, Kaye says.

"Some estimates have the apartment sector alone worth more than $50 billion. Underinvestment and inadequate long term maintenance plans can result in large unexpected bills for homeowners if defects occur and increases in body corporate fees.”

These issues hit young homeowners and vulnerable people more as they are more likely to buy apartments or townhouses, she adds.

Kaye has long advocated for apartment law reform. She produced the 2016 “Apartment Blues” report and contributed to a discussion paper for the last government on the issues.

Both she and Collins say they will keep fighting to pressure the Government to prioritise apartment reform.

Meanwhile, in the letter, Twyford says he intends to progress the results of the 2017 Unit Titles Act review in due course when priorities and resources permit.

Read more:

Time for apartment law reform

Shake-up for apartment laws


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