New legislation to offer enhanced protections for Kiwi apartment owners

New amendment also set to bolster body corporate governance and powers of regulatory bodies

New legislation to offer enhanced protections for Kiwi apartment owners

The New Zealand government has announced enhancements to the Unit Titles Act to bolster the confidence of apartment buyers and owners. Housing Minister Hon. Chris Bishop highlighted in a statement the upcoming changes under the Unit Titles (Strengthening Body Corporate Governance and Other Matters) Amendment Act, set to take effect on May 9, 2024.

The Amendment Act, which saw its initial modifications implemented in December 2022 and May 2023, aims to facilitate easier access for New Zealanders to the property market, targeting those interested in apartment ownership. “These changes will help New Zealanders to get onto the property ladder by giving them more confidence when buying an apartment,” said Minister Bishop. He emphasized the government’s commitment to increasing homeownership rates among New Zealanders, saying the Act’s update is a step toward this goal.

The latest amendments focus on refining the long-term maintenance framework, clarifying the contractual terms with body corporate managers, and expanding the powers of the regulatory body, MBIE (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment). The forthcoming modifications will introduce new regulations covering mandatory information disclosure to MBIE upon request, electronic voting protocols, proxy voting guidelines, and enhanced pre-purchase disclosure for off-the-plan unit purchases.

The legislation, initially propelled by Nicola Willis while in opposition, is designed to reinforce protections for individuals purchasing or owning unit title properties, including apartments. It aims to bring about greater transparency and improve governance within bodies corporate, which manage these properties.

“Apartments have traditionally been good starter homes for first-home buyers who want to get onto the property ladder,” said the minister. “These changes will ensure prospective buyers have legal rights to a far more comprehensive disclosure regime and to information about the building in which they buy an apartment or a unit title.”

Minister Bishop further noted that the policy decisions behind these amendments have been made to consider the operational capacity of bodies corporate and are aimed at minimizing compliance costs.

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