Property Law

As you may be aware, the new Unit Titles Act 2010 came into force on 20 June 2011. The 2010 Act sets out that existing Body Corporates will have to adopt new operational rules by 1 October 2012. If they do not, the default operational rules in the Unit Titles Regulations 2011 will apply. The default operational rules in the Regulations are remarkably brief. This is particularly when one considers the sort of rules that were usually written. The new operation rules provide that the owner or occupier cannot:

  • Damage or deface the common property;
  • Leave rubbish or recycling material on the common property;
  • Create noise likely to interfere with the use or enjoyment of the unit title development by other owners or occupiers;
  • Park on the common property unless the Body Corporate has designated it for such; or
  • Interfere with the reasonable use or enjoyment of the common property by other owners or occupiers.
  • They also require that the owner or occupier of a unit has to dispose of rubbish hygienically and totally.

The 15 month lead-in period to 1 October 2012 provides a Body Corporate with the opportunity to consider their existing rules and make any amendments or additions that it deems necessary. Many existing rules concerning meetings, voting, the Body Corporate secretary, and the Committee will not be relevant anymore and are either provided for in the main body of the new Act or have been removed altogether from the regime. Some suggested concerns that Body Corporates might want to deal with are:

  • The new requirements for Long Term Maintenance Plans and Long Term Maintenance Funds and whether the rules need to make further provision in relation to these;
  • Whether any current operational rules should be transferred to the new regime (e.g. your body corporate may have particular arrangements concerning parking, pets, deck usage, colour schemes or rubbish removal);
  • Whether the current rules adequately cover off any problems that the Body Corporate has experienced since inception; or
  • Whether there are any governance or authority issues that need to be addressed in the rules (such as delegations of authority or the committee's powers to spend).

Although the new Act tends to envisage multi-storey apartment buildings, Tauranga has a large number of townhouse style unit title developments. This provides a different dynamic to the traditional apartment building with its own set of challenges. A complete, well thought out set of rules can alleviate some of the these challenges and ensure the complex is utilised for the enjoyment of all the owners. Rule changes are voted on by the whole Body Corporate and decided by majority resolution but will need to be registered against the Body Corporate's title on Land Information New Zealand's on-line database. This will require the assistance of a lawyer or registered conveyancer for registration purposes. Simon Collett can assist with the registration process and/or answer any queries you may have on this process.