The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill is expected to come to Parliament in May.
Major reform elements proposed in the Bill will include:
Upon completing first reading stages the Bill is expected to be referred to the Social Services Select Committee for examination.
UNIT TITLES ACT – Proposed reforms
Cabinet has agreed to a Unit Titles Bill, which will replace the Unit Titles Act 1972. It is understood that the bill is to due to be introduced shortly.
Some key reforms will include:
· Removal of the requirement for a unanimous vote in body corporate decision making. Instead, a 75% agreement will be enough to decide on things such as redevelopments or fixing the roof.
· Every body corporate will have to draw up a long-term maintenance plan, and apartment or unit owners will contribute annually to the costs.
· Disputes with bodies corporate be dealt with initially through mediation, or adjudication in the Tenancy Tribunal, rather than through the courts.
· Potential purchasers be entitled to view a body corporate's audited accounts, rules and maintenance plans.
· A body corporate will own the common property. If an apartment block has a leaky roof it will be the body corporate's responsibility to fix it, not that of the owner of the top floor apartment.
Separately, the media reports on a recent High Court case which ruled an Aucklander bankrupt for refusing to pay body corporate levies and legal fees. Moreover, his property is to be sold by the official assignee to pay the debt, as well as $35,000 in outstanding repair levies.
LONG TERM RENTING – Update
The Building and Construction Minister Shane Jones has asked his officials to explore long-term leasehold agreements for tenants. In response, the Federation issued a press release expressing cautious support.
A report is due with the Minister by July but it is doubtful that the proposal will be completed in time to be included in a planned Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill.
And in a report from the Social Services Committee on the financial review of the 2006/07 operations of the Housing New Zealand Corporation it noted that “rental properties, income-related rents, and accommodation supplements are among the ways that homes are made more affordable for households who rent”.
In reference to the accommodation supplement, a draft NZPIF position paper has stated:
Additional to proposals making tenancies more secure (see above item) the month was dominated by housing affordability issues and Government initiatives.
REAL ESTATE LAW – Oral hearings
The justice and electoral select Committee continued to hear oral testimony on the reforming the Real Estate Agents Act.
Of interest to the Federation was the submission of the Consumers’ Institute. CI backed the new legislation as a whole but also expressed concern about the security of trust accounts. It said: “While property managers do pose less risk to consumers than other real estate services, it seems sensible when there is a major redrafting of the law to include them".
More than 800 submissions have been made on the bill - many from real estate agents - meaning MPs will be working extended hours to hear from all parties.
The Law Commission is currently reviewing the Land Transfer Act 1952 (governing the sale and transfer of property) with a view to modernising it. (See: http://www.lawcom.govt.nz/ProjectTermsOfReference.aspx?ProjectID=139)
The Commission expects to have a final report ready by the end of the year.
MEETING WITH DBH OFFICIAL
As part of a regular contact program, a meeting in