Property editor of the NZ Herald

Kaye will struggle to win support for change

Nikki Kaye gathers views on the law governing unit titles.Picture / Dean Purcell
Nikki Kaye gathers views on the law governing unit titles.Picture / Dean Purcell

The law governing the apartment sector needs change, a property leader says, but he wonders about the outcome of Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye's probe into the sector.

John Gray, Home Owners & Buyers Association (Hobanz) chief executive, said his organisation supported Kaye's investigations, but he predicts difficulties.

"There will be challenges ahead for [her] in convincing her ministerial colleagues of the issues and need for change. Hobanz will continue to support her endeavours and we believe this first step will help Government get a real understanding of the issues and need for change," Gray said.

Kaye has discovered a number of areas of concern.

Those include pre-contract disclosure about issues with properties, problems with the governance of large apartment blocks, the abuse of proxy votes at meetings, calls for regulation of body corporate managers and issues with long-term maintenance funds.

She wants change.

"My sense is that there needs to be some sort of change, whether that be legislative or whether it's things like making information more accessible," she said last month.

She will soon produce a report outlining issues.

"I will be working hard to present that to ministers and hopefully there will be some change," she said.

Amy Adams, Justice Minister, has expressed support.'

"I've advised Nikki Kaye that I'm happy to work with her on any issues relevant to my portfolio that come out of her looking into her constituents' concerns," she said last month.

Gray said his association supported owners in complexes governed by the Unit Titles Act and had a deep understanding of the issues and challenges they faced.

The association sees the shortcomings of existing legislation and believes significant changes are required, Gray said.

David Watt, a retired Auckland accountant and apartment-dweller, wants a body corporate registry established so people can access more information about the sector.

"The depth of concern across the range of attendees was quite clear," he said after one meeting last month. "A number have previously participated in reviews with officials on the need for change, but their real and honestly-felt views have to date largely been ignored by officials. My concern is that given that some of the same folk will be putting forward input to the paper, this will be treated as 'more of the same' by officials," Watt said.

The cross-section of concerns is now from interested groups far wider than those who may have previously participated in Unit Title Act reforms up to 2010, and their views will add to evidence of the need for change, he said.

"Case law on many fronts of UTA is mounting with the courts even expressing their frustration at some of the cases appearing before them. And [body corporate] legal costs mount at a rapid rate in times of distress. I'm sure when the feedback ... is collated and presented by the designated section leaders, there will be many examples of issues across a range of topics that will challenge the effectiveness of the present official position on UTA, and will recommend areas for change," Watt said.

"There is now a more firm resolve behind this process."

- NZ Herald

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