Guidelines around new laws governing the buying and selling of unit title developments have been issued by the Department of Building and Housing (DBH).
The new laws come under the Unit Titles Act 2010 and include a number of changes to the Unit titles Act 1972, and according to a DBH spokesman, creates "a modern framework for managing unit title developments. These changes affect the way bodies corporate are run, and have implications for owners and residents of apartments and commercial unit title developments."
The guide outlines changes to the Act around maintenance requirements, fees, buying and selling units and dispute resolution.
While the Act was passed on April 1, it will not come into force until the supporting regulations have been completed, and a 15-month transition period from the Act coming into force will allow time for bodies corporate to prepare for the new requirements. The Unit Titles Act 1972 will continue to apply during that time frame.
Among the changes set to come into force is an expansion of the maintenance requirements.
"A body corporate's responsibility for maintenance will cover the common property, as well as all building elements and infrastructure which serve more than one unit. Bodies corporate will also be required to set up a long-term maintenance plan and establish a fund for that plan," the guide says.
The plan is required to cover a 10-year period and include identification of future maintenance requirements and provide a basis for levying contributions on unit holders.
The new Act also outlines a number of rights and responsibilities for unit owners, including the right to have any dispute resolved.
A joint dispute resolution process will be provided by the DBH and the Ministry of Justice with the aim of "helping people avoid and resolve disputes without needing to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal."
Changes to the law regarding the buying and selling of units are also included in the Act.
"When the Unit Titles Act 2010 comes into force, sellers of units will be required to provide intending buyers with disclosure statements; these will provide potential buyers with information that can help their purchase decision."
The Act will include three types of disclosure statement; pre-contract - which the seller provides before entering into a sale or purchase agreement, pre-settlement - which the seller provides after entering into a sale or purchase agreement but before the settlement of sale, and additional disclosure, provided by the seller on request from the buyer.
The DBH said regulations to prescribe the information - currently under development - will be required.
Information on the Unit Titles Act 2010 can be found on the DBH website at: http://www.dbh.govt.nz/unit-titles-publications