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Minister welcomes Unit Titles Act submissions

Hon Clayton Cosgrove
Minister for Building Issues

4 August 2006 Media Statement

Minister welcomes Unit Titles Act submissions

Building Issues Minister Clayton Cosgrove today said he was impressed by the high standard of public submissions received in the government's latest consultation round as part of its review of the Unit Titles Act 1972.

Mr Cosgrove said the submissions were in-depth and encompassed a wide range of issues, from proposed changes for small and stand-alone developments and a code of conduct for professional body corporate managers, to ways for keeping disclosure requirements effective but simple.

“These submissions will be instrumental in helping to develop the finer detail of the proposals, and ultimately deliver workable, relevant legislation,” Mr Cosgrove said.

The 148 submissions were in response to the Options for Change discussion document released in May 2006. They have been analysed and summarised in a report that is now available on the Department of Building and Housing website at www.dbh.govt.nz

Mr Cosgrove said the review was a crucial one and would impact on the lives of an increasing number of New Zealanders in the years ahead.

“The fact that there will be half a million people living in apartments, townhouses and high-rise buildings in Auckland alone in 50 years shows the importance of the review," he said. "Many families used to live in three-bedroom homes on quarter acre sections, but that is no longer the case. The current Act is 34 years old and no longer meets the needs of these New Zealanders."

Options for Change put forward a range of proposals, including redefining the responsibilities of bodies corporate and unit owners, common property and unit entitlement.

Submissions were received from a wide cross-section of people, including unit title owners, bodies corporate, body corporate managers, local and regional authorities, developers, surveyors, lawyers, other government departments and professional institutions such as the New Zealand Law Society, the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors, the New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors, the Insurance Council of New Zealand, the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, the New Zealand Property Investors Federation and the Property Council of New Zealand.

Mr Cosgrove said the submissions would assist the Department of Building and Housing in developing proposals for legislative change. The public will then be able to make submissions on the resulting draft Bill.


Media Backgrounder

Unit title developments are apartments, flats, townhouses, office blocks, shopping centres and other building developments where multiple owners own a type of property know as a unit title, as well as property common to the development.

The titles give ownership to a unit in a building rather than a property right based first and foremost on ownership of land.

The Unit Titles Act covers the technical and legal aspects of creating and dealing with a unit title.

It also covers the rights and responsibilities of a body corporate – the collective of all owners in a unit title development that manages the building development and the common property. Thirty years ago, when the Act was first introduced, unit title developments were new. Now the variety of ways in which these units are used, and their scale, has broadened considerably.

This review will assess what legislative changes are needed to manage the issues that have arisen since it was first passed. It will also consider how it can provide for intensive, but sustainable, development.

The Options for Change discussion document sought feedback on three broad issues:

- Unit titles: technical and legal aspects of creating, changing and administering a unit title

- Bodies corporate: the need to have one; different types; voting and decision-making; role, duties and functions; financial responsibilities; relationships with developers, members, owners and purchasers; resolving disputes

- Other forms of shared ownership such as cross-leasing and flat-owning companies.

The review is also part of a government package of reviews in housing-related and building areas including:

- The new Building Act 2004 improves control of, and encourages better practice in, building design and construction

- The Residential Tenancies Act review looks at whether the Act balances the needs and obligations of landlords and tenants

- Building industry licensing reforms seek to raise professional standards and protections for consumers

- The review of the Building Code will set future building standards

These initiatives are also being examined in the context of programmes and protocols dealing with sustainable cities, urban design and energy efficiency.


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