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Apartment living: do you know the rules?

Apartment living: do you know the rules?

Do you already own or plan to own an apartment or terraced house? Are you a tenant in one? In a new report the Auckland Regional Growth Forum throws some light on vital issues.

The report Bodies Corporate and Housing Intensification in Auckland: A Preliminary Assessment contains information aimed at anybody involved in developing, maintaining, running or living in an apartment or terraced housing complex, as well as those responsible for the regulatory framework within which bodies corporate exist.

Auckland Regional Council figures show that around one third of all houses currently being built in the Auckland region are some form of apartment or terraced house. The report discusses issues around Body Corporate rules – the rules governing running, administration and maintenance of apartment blocks.

“…bodies corporate, as provided for under the UTA [Unit Titles Act 1972], represent a form of collective ownership that sits somewhat uncomfortably with the traditional forms of individual home ownership,” the Growth Forum report says.

“Basically most New Zealanders have been used to living in free-standing homes. With the recent increase in ownership of terraced houses and apartments comes the need to relate to neighbours in a different way,” says Cr Gwen Bull, Chair of the Regional Growth Forum and the Auckland Regional Council (ARC).

The report says that buying into an apartment or terraced house involves a number of “unstated obligations”. Buyers for example may not be aware that they may need to work cooperatively with other owners through owners’ committees or annual general meetings.

According to the report the Unit Titles Act, which governs ownership rules covering apartments and terraced houses, lacks the sophistication and flexibility necessary for modern higher density development and does not meet all the needs of developers or potential owners. While apartment living works well for the majority of people living in this type of housing, the report suggests that all parties involved – central government, local government, property developers, real estate agents, and potential owners have a part to play in making apartment living work better.

Copies of the report Bodies Corporate and Housing Intensification in Auckland: A Preliminary Assessment can be obtained free from the ARC on 366-2000.

Last August, the ARC along with North Shore City and other Auckland councils, released What to look for when buying a terraced house or apartment, a guide aimed at potential buyers of terraced houses or apartments. The guide is intended to help purchasers find a suitable property through considering issues such as privacy, design, noise, types of ownership, body corporates, construction quality and neighbourhood character. This free guide is also available from the ARC on 366-2000.

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