Concerns about a lack of pre-purchase disclosure and possible manipulation of proxy votes at body corporate meetings were issues complained about yesterday at a public meeting examining issues in the apartment sector.
Cabinet Minister Nikki Kaye told the meeting in Ponsonby that these were two worries in the sector, where she has called for more information from those who live in multi-unit blocks.
"If I was going to name an area that has come up the most ... we have to seriously think about how we make that a lot easier, more accessible and more transparent," she said of pre-contract disclosure.
People cannot find out enough information about an apartment or unit title in advance of purchasing, she said.
Another major message coming through was the need to examine the contentious issue of proxy votes, she said, after she heard from one owner that proxies were being used to vote at meetings without the proxy holder knowing what was being voted on or even agreeing to the way the vote was being cast.
Kaye has got "huge" feedback after last month seeking views on body corporate issues.
"I have had more than 90,000 views of my social media post on this. I also have more than 100 more detailed comments and documents provided by email or the website with feedback on body corporates," Kaye said.
"There's huge interest from individuals and organisations and there are a majority of people who want some form of change. That indicates ... there's a huge interest."
Kaye established website betterbodycorporates.nz as a forum for feedback but lawyer Thomas Gibbons said that fell far short of what was needed which was action.
"I deal with the Unit Titles Act nearly every day. The phrase 'dog's breakfast' often comes to mind. There are a lot of good ideas, not quite executed properly, and quite a few bad ideas as well. Problems with the Act were identified even before it came into force, and most of these haven't been addressed," Gibbons wrote in the Herald last month.
Kaye's campaign also comes after extensive Herald publicity about issues and a long-term push for change from 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.
Apartments' maintenance plans were another contentious area and people had sought regulation.
"These are really large buildings and if there's not clarity, there can be serious issues," Kaye said.
"The third area is body corporate managers and property managers and whether they should be regulated, given the scale of money some of these people are responsible for and some of the decisions they make."
People also complained about general governance issues, she said, expecting to have a report ready in the next few weeks.
Kaye is planning a meeting of stakeholders on February 26.
"I will [seek] consensus around these four areas. Some of those might not be about change to the law but accessibility of information."
Nikki Kaye wants us to look at:
Transparency and accessibility of information: people in multi-unit places have trouble finding details of other owners.
2 Long-term maintenance plan problems: issues with collection of, then spending, money used to maintain properties.
3 Regulation of body corporate managers and property managers: they don't have to be registered, or even qualified.
4 Governance: how big blocks and multi-unit properties are run, including rules put in place to avoid disputes.