Buying a unit title property
Buying a unit title property is different to buying a stand-alone house, and they are becoming an increasingly common form of property ownership in New Zealand. If you are thinking of purchasing a unit title property, we’ve put together some key points for you to consider.
What is a unit title property?
A unit title property means you own defined part of a building, such as an apartment, and share ownership in common areas - these are things like the lifts, lobbies or driveways.
It’s important that you obtain legal advice before committing to purchasing a unit title, so that you fully understand what you will be buying into.
The Unit Titles Act 2010 is the law governing building developments where multiple owners hold a type of property ownership known as a unit title.
Owning a unit title property means you’re living with others in a social living arrangement.
Acceptance that there may be some restrictions on what you can and can’t do to your unit and within the development is key to enjoying your new home. Everyone else living in the unit title are subject to the same rules too - which makes for a better living situation for all.
More about unit titles
Pre-Contract Disclosure Statement
Before you purchase your unit title property, the owner must provide you with a pre-contract disclosure statement. This will cover what you need to know about the unit title and specific information about the unit title you are buying - so make sure you read and review it carefully.
Learn more about pre-disclosure statements on the REINZ Website.
The Body Corporate
Once you purchase your unit title property you will automatically become a member of the body corporate.
The body corporate owns the common property (like gym facilities, lifts and swimming pools) and has rules to how you can use your unit and the common areas. Because a body corporate plays such an important role in any unit title development, you need to investigate and understand how the body corporate operates.
As a unit title unit owner, you’re entitled to contribute to building decisions by being a part of the body corporate meetings - but you must have paid all your fees in order for your votes to be counted.
As an owner of a unit title property, levies are an annual cost you will need to pay.
These cover items at the development, including insurance, repair and maintenance, management, leasehold costs if any, and all matters relating to common property.
Make sure you find out what these levies will be before going ahead with your purchase. They will be included in your pre-contract disclosure agreement.
Top tips to consider before buying a unit title
- Talk to your lawyer, do your homework understand exactly what you are buying into before you make an offer
- Review the title and the survey plan for the development with your lawyer to determine what’s common property and what’s not, and any other matters on the title that will affect your use of the unit
- Body corporate - check how it’s managed. Ask for meeting minutes and the body corporate’s financial reports and budgets. These will show you how the body corporate operates, any issues and how they were resolved. Always check the body corporate rules and make sure they are legitimate in accordance with the Unit Titles Act 2010.