After several years of work, the Unit Titles (Strengthening Body Corporate Governance and Other Matters) Amendment Bill to strengthen the management of apartments and townhouses has today been released by National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye.
“We see a huge opportunity 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”, Judith Collins says.
“The driver for this change has been concerns around a lack of transparency and inadequate long term maintenance plans, and a clearer understanding of the role of a body corporate manager.
“Some estimates have the apartment sector alone worth more than $50 billion. Underinvestment in long term maintenance plans can result in large unexpected bills for homeowners if defects occur, or sharp rises in body corporate fees.
“Places like Auckland have seen a huge increase in unit titles. The number of multi-unit housing developments in Auckland increased from just over 15 per cent of new houses in 2010 to over 40 per cent in 2017.
“A refined governance, management and planning structure will ultimately lead to more quality housing through improved long term maintenance plans and boost the confidence of first time buyers.
“Nikki Kaye alongside property and legal experts produced a report for the last National Government and a discussion paper was subsequently released which forms the basis of this law. National had committed to ensure the legislation would be progressed if we were in Government,” Judith Collins says.
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; and
- Ensure planning and funding of long-term maintenance projects is adequate and proportionate to the size of the complex concerned.
“The law distinguishes between unit title complexes based on their size so smaller complexes can either be excluded or able to opt-out of some compliance obligations. The legislation aims to strike a balance between the benefits of additional compliance requirements with any potential costs,” Nikki Kaye says.
“Earlier this year Judith and I met with Housing Minister Phil Twyford where we confirmed we would proceed to draft a Bill and we have now written to the Minister asking the Government to adopt the legislation. If the Government chooses not to adopt the law the Bill will be lodged as a Private Members Bill in Judith’s name.
“We understand as a result of some of these issues disputes have arisen without accessible and affordable dispute resolution – the Bill seeks to reduce dispute costs and improve accessibility of mediation.
“We want to reduce and help support easier resolution of homeowner disputes in multi-unit dwellings.
“For most people their home is the largest asset they have so when things go wrong there can be devastating and life-long impacts.
“Through our discussions with apartment owners, property and legal organisations including body corporate chairs we know there is huge support for law reform in this area.
“We will work hard to ensure this law reform is progressed,” Nikki Kaye says