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Urgent Improvements Needed To Legislation Affecting Apartment Owners

The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa has told a parliamentary select committee there is widespread consensus that changes are needed to the Unit Titles legislative regime and that the most urgent changes should progress without delay.

The Law Society addressed the Finance and Expenditure committee today about its views on a member’s bill proposing changes to the Unit Titles Act, including strengthening requirements for apartments’ body corporate governance and management.

"There has been criticism about the gaps and errors in the legislation since the Act was passed in 2010. After a great deal of discussion and consultation, there is general consensus in the industry on most of the urgent changes needed to the Act - many of which are covered in the Bill," Law Society spokesperson John Greenwood told the committee.

The Law Society supports amendments in the Bill addressing issues that require urgent attention, and has recommended some additional urgent reforms.

"There needs to be a balance in terms of protection for people investing in what will often be their largest asset, their home, but too much regulation can cause higher compliance costs which may disincentivise unit ownership and discourage lay people from becoming involved in body corporate governance. The Bill seeks to ensure that balance is maintained," Law Society spokesperson Thomas Gibbons said.

"Given the length of time it has taken for this Bill - which addresses issues needing urgent attention - to get to select committee, there is concern that momentum must not be lost. The Bill makes essential improvements to several aspects of the Act and the Law Society recommends that the Bill, subject to amendments, be enacted as soon as possible.

The Law Society and other stakeholders have also drawn attention to the need for further and wider reform of the Act. The Law Society has recommended the government undertake an immediate review to follow enactment of the Bill, so that other less-pressing but important issues can be considered and further legislation introduced.

Notes:

The Law Society’s submission on the Bill is here.

The Bill is here.

The submission was prepared by the Law Society’s Property Law Section’s unit titles working group - comprising property lawyers with extensive experience and expertise in unit titles law. The Property Law Section was established in April 2000 as a voluntary membership group, and it represents the interests of over 1,500 property lawyers.

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