Property editor of the NZ Herald

Apartment blues: MP launches campaign

A Cabinet minister has launched a campaign to put the spotlight on the body corporate sector and her move could indicate the Government might consider changing the law.

Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye told the Herald she wants to hear about problems people have with the sector, in charge of large apartment buildings and other properties.

Later today, she will launch a new forum for people make their views known.

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The move comes after extensive Herald publicity about issues with body corporates and a long-term push for change from many including Real Estate Institute chairwoman Rosanne Meo, Body Corporate Chairs' Group national president Neil Cooper, Auckland Body Corporate Chairs' Group branch chairwoman Lyn Gillingham and Auckland District Law Society property law committee member Liza Fry-Irvine.

Also supporting the issue were Home Owners & Buyers Association president John Gray, Property 101 Group director Joanne Barreto, Auckland accountant and body corporate chairman Brent Murdoch, North Shore lawyer and former local board member Nick Kearney and Consumer magazine.

Later today, Kaye will launch website, seeking views and comments on how bodies corporate operate.

"Over the last 12 months, I have had numerous constituents approach me with issues they face in dealing with bodies corporate. These issues include the lack of easily accessible information about bodies corporate and transparency around the management of bodies corporate. For example, bodies corporate have no publically searchable register unlike other legal entities such as companies.

"As there is no easily available contact information in one place for bodies corporate they can be difficult to contact. There can also be confusion as to who is in charge," she said.

"The present situation affects not only those people who live in a residence run by a body corporate, but also any perspective owners and parties who contract with a body corporate, such as maintenance and cleaning contractors.

"At this stage, I am seeking the views and experiences of the public as to whether the rules around bodies corporate are working and whether there should be some changes to improve transparency. I plan to work with Ministers to see if there is a need for any improvements.

"My electorate in Auckland Central has huge numbers of apartments. As the growth in apartments continue it is important people have confidence in how bodies corporate operate, and I encourage members of the public to participate in this process," she said.

Cooper, who is national president of the Body Corporate Chairs' Group, set up to support body corporate chairpeople, he doesn't enjoy hearing stories of heartbreak and financial difficulties.

Cooper complained of many issues in the sector.

"Some body corporate management companies are a law unto themselves," he told the Herald last year.

"There is no regulatory body governing them, no code of conduct and no disciplinary processes available when one abuses their powers. At the same time, though, they are effectively trustees of many millions of dollars of owners' money, not all of which is well managed as this case shows," Cooper said.

- NZ Herald

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