The Unit Titles Act 2010 is the law governing building developments where multiple owners hold a type of property ownership known as a unit title.
Residential unit title developments are typically apartment blocks, townhouses and suburban flats. Commercial and industrial types include office blocks, industrial or retail complexes and shopping malls.
The Act provides a legal framework for the ownership and management of unit title developments, where multiple owners hold a type of property ownership known as a unit title. The Act covers the creation and ownership of unit title developments, body corporate governance, the rights and obligations of the body corporate and individual unit owners, disclosure between buyers and sellers of unit titles, dispute resolution and a range of technical title and survey matters. The Unit Titles Regulations 2011 support the Act by setting out a handbook of operation guidelines.
Unit Titles Act 2010
On 1 April 2010 Parliament passed the Unit Titles Act 2010(external link). The Act aims to ensure the diverse and complex range of unit title developments are able to be managed more effectively; and will provide a clear and flexible mechanism for simple and complex developments to be created in the future.
The Act contained transitional provisions through to 1 October 2012 which enabled a Body Corporate to prepare long term maintenance plans and determine new operating rules. Otherwise from 1 October 2012 default operational rules would apply.
The explicit purpose of the Act is to provide a modern legal framework for the joint ownership and management of land, buildings and facilities on a socially and economically sustainable basis by communities of individual owners.
The Unit Titles Act 2010 improves on the Unit Titles Act 1972 in a number of ways.
The new Act:
- clarifies the definition of a principal unit - a principal unit must contain or be contained in a building or be a car park
- streamlines the process under which a development is built in stages
- creates a sensible and more flexible system for calculating how much a unit owner should contribute to body corporate common funds
- states that the body corporate owns the common property
- clarifies the rights and responsibilities of unit owners and bodies corporate
- creates more efficient and transparent governance and management structures
- lowers the voting threshold for most body corporate decisions
- provides a comprehensive disclosure regime for buyers and sellers, developers and bodies corporate
- provides a fully integrated and cost-effective dispute resolution service for unit title disputes, through the Tenancy Tribunal.
Administering the Act
The Unit Titles Act is administered by Land Information New Zealand, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), and the Ministry of Justice. Each agency has different responsibilities under this legislation.
Land Information New Zealand
Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) is a government department responsible for managing a variety of land, information and transactions functions, including authorising and recording changes in rights to land in New Zealand. This includes creating new titles, recording changes of ownership and interests in land, and providing access to these records.
LINZ also manages Landonline. Landonline provides land professionals with secure access to New Zealand's only authoritative titles register and digital cadastre maintained by LINZ. It enables land professionals to search, and to lodge title dealings and survey data digitally.
When a unit title is developed, the developer deposits a unit plan with LINZ. The unit plan shows the boundaries of the principal units as well as any accessory units and common property in the development. A copy of the unit plan can be ordered through the LINZ website(external link).
For more information, visit the LINZ website(external link) or call 0800 665 463.
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
MBIE provides advice and information to the unit titles sector. MBIE also administers applications to the Tenancy Tribunal for the resolution of disputes under the Unit Titles Act 2010.
Ministry of Justice
The Tenancy Tribunal (supported by the Ministry of Justice) hears disputes between parties who have not been able to reach agreement in mediation provided by MBIE. The Tribunal hears disputes up to $50,000.
Tenancy Tribunal hearings are heard by impartial and independent Tenancy Adjudicators. Most are lawyers appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Ministers of Justice and Housing. The Tribunal conducts proceedings with minimal formality and technicality.
For more information visit the Ministry of Justice website(external link).