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Minister disregarding apartment owners

Judith Collins - Housing and Urban Development; Nikki Kaye - MP for Auckland Central

26 November 2018

After several years of work the Unit Titles (Strengthening Body Corporate Governance and Other Matters) Amendment Bill has huge support from the public, property and legal industry, but Housing Minister Phil Twyford has refused to progress the legislation, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye say.

“There is a huge opportunity here to strengthen the existing unit titles regime in areas such as pre-contract disclosure, record keeping of body corporates and better management of conflicts of interests and proxy votes,” Ms Collins says.

“The main reason for the change has been concerns around a lack of transparency and inadequacy in long term maintenance plans, and a clearer understanding of the role of a body corporate manager.

“While the Minister supported reform, earlier this year he said he was too busy to draft the law. Mr Twyford chose not to support the legislation as parts of the Bill don’t align with officials’ recommendations and there was a need for additional provisions.

“National has worked alongside property and legal experts for several years to pull together more than 20 pages of legislation. The issues stated by the Minister could have been raised in Select Committee. The reality is no Bill goes to Select Committee in a perfect form.

“It is very clear this isn’t about the detail of the Bill, the Minister is more interested in playing politics and stalling a National Party piece of legislation than ensuring homeowners don’t end up with defective buildings, in disputes and with substandard information about what they are buying into,” Ms Collins says.

“These situations have hit young homeowners and vulnerable people more as they are more likely to afford apartments or townhouses. Mr Twyford has prioritised politics over people and their need for better housing,” Ms Kaye says.

“In Opposition Mr Twyford was vocal for his support for reform. Many in the sector will feel hugely let down and misled by a Minister who indicated this was a priority and is also signalling he will progress the results of the review when ‘priorities and resources permit’.

“This is a Government that campaigned on housing but isn’t following through.

“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.

“The Minister’s true colours have shone through. Mr Twyford has chosen to play politics instead of respecting the work that has gone into this and progressing this legislation that will improve the quality of housing for all. National will keep fighting hard to keep the pressure on this Government to prioritise this reform,” Ms Kaye says.

Notes to editors

Attached is the Unit Titles (Strengthening Body Corporate Governance and Other Matters) Amendment Bill, and the letter from Minister Twyford to Ms Collins and Ms Kaye.

The Bill aims to:

Improve the information disclosure regime to prospective buyers of units,
Strengthen the governance arrangements in relation to the body corporate, the entity responsible for the management and operation of a unit title complex (owner),
Increase the professionalism and standards of body corporate managers,
Ensure planning and funding of long-term maintenance projects is adequate and proportionate to the size of the complex concerned.

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