Head of Business for NZME

Investors share body corp war stories

Franklin businessman Phil Long-Taylor put his unit back on the market within six months of purchase. Photo / Supplied
Franklin businessman Phil Long-Taylor put his unit back on the market within six months of purchase. Photo / Supplied

The Herald's "email bag" is running hot with tales from the body corporate frontline.

Franklin businessman Phil Long-Taylor put his unit back on the market within six months of purchase.

Long-Taylor had some issues with the management of his body corporate but lost faith after experiencing three different "standing chairmen" within months of acquisition.

Despite having 30 years experience in the building industry, he sold the unit in May last year at a breakeven price because he doubted his ability to influence change.

His concerns were heightened by a series of Herald articles by property editor Anne Gibson.

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That, together with war stories from other body corporate investors that have been shared with him, leads him to believe individuals in the property management industry, along with body corporate committees, require regulation, open scrutiny and auditing by a higher authority, as the opportunity of abuse at many levels was obvious.

"As it stands, the process clearly allows for unaccountability at many levels," says Long-Taylor.

"With the increase in the ageing population, the increase in the construction of retirement homes and the increase in rental options for many people, I believe that [the abuse of] property rights, legal rights and the isolation of individual owners to the advantage of an opportunistic minority ... is predictable, if not rife already."

He says lay people who purchase a home as a safe haven, and others who purchase an investment property to build wealth for their family, often find the task of managing the managers is beyond their ability, experience and energy.

"Those who become aware of deceit, especially the owner-occupiers, prefer not to challenge such discrepancies as they arise, for fear of being isolated from the community information network with ongoing threats and innuendo."

Another body corporate investor said it was important that smaller body corporate entities did not get trampled underfoot in the rush to make necessary change.

As it stands, the process clearly allows for unaccountability at many levels.
Phil Long-Taylor

The Unit Titles Act had created a very secure land titles regime, but almost totally ignored governance of the corporate body formed when the unit titles are created, he said.

The investor said the thrust to get more transparency in the sector was long overdue and particularly important now as it was vital to growth in Auckland as the population swells.

"There is a big gap between small and large and care needs to be taken when working through the changes required so that small body corporates are handled sensitively," the investor said.

"For example, small body corporates (nine or fewer titles) should in my view be granted exemption from the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, have less stringent filing requirements than larger body corporates if changes are made in the Unit Titles Act but otherwise should still be accorded the protections required for their properties and their cash reserves."

- NZ Herald

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