Month: December 2020

Quiet enjoyment of your property is your fundamental right as part of a body corporate.

Body corporate rules are there to help make sure this right is respected. Without exception, everybody living in a body corporate has to follow the operational rules. This applies to both owners and tenants.

If you think someone is breaking the rules, this information will help you work out what to do next.

How do I check what the rules are?

Unless your Body Corporate has formally registered a set of operational rules, the rules that apply ‘by default’ are those set out in Schedule 1 of the Unit Titles Regulations 2011. This states  that an owner or occupier of a unit must not:

  • Damage or deface the common property.
  • Leave rubbish or recycling material on the common property.
  • Create noise likely to interfere with the use or enjoyment of the unit title development by other owners or occupiers.
  • Park on the common property unless the body corporate has designated it for car parking, or the body corporate consents.
  • Interfere with the reasonable use or enjoyment of the common property by other owners or occupiers.
  • Dispose of rubbish in a way that is not hygienic and tidy.

Many bodies corporate have adopted and formally registered a set of operational rules that apply to their body corporate. These replace the operational rules in Schedule 1 of the Regulations. If this is the case for your Body Corporate, you should have received a copy of the rules when buying your unit. (If you’re with Strata, the rules for your body corporate can easily be found on the Strata Owner Portal at www.stratatitle.co.nz.)

What to do if you think someone is breaking the rules

If your Body Corporate has a building manager, speak with them first to see if they can assist. If the matter requires emergency services, please contact those services directly then advise your building manager or your body corporate management company, such as Strata Title Administration.

If you have a problem with your unit or the Body Corporate, it helps to be very clear and precise about what the problem is. For example, if you have evidence such as photos, make sure you include that to support your claim.

Without proof, it can be difficult to resolve an issue as the offending party can simply deny the claim. So, it’s important to be as specific as you can. Your body corporate management company will then be able to determine if any laws, regulations or operational rules are not being followed.

What if the problem is caused by tenants renting a unit?

The owner of a unit is responsible for ensuring all laws, regulations and rules are followed.

Section 16B of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2010 states that “Body corporate rules form part of the tenancy agreement”.

So in the eyes of the body corporate, anything a tenant does is as if it had been carried out directly by their landlord.

What can be done if someone breaks the rules?

First, the building manager (if applicable) and your body corporate management company will liaise with your chairperson and/or committee and present the available facts and options.

Second, the offending unit owner will be given a chance to rectify the problem. If a resolution can’t be reached, the matter may be referred to the Body Corporate’s solicitors for enforcement. The offending owner will be responsible for the costs incurred during this process – which will be significant if the matter requires the services of the body corporate’s solicitors.

For more advice on how to move forward when someone goes against the rules of your body corporate, contact Strata on 0800 778 7282.

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Smoke alarms are now compulsory in rental properties, and they can save lives. If you’re a landlord, you’ll need to make sure you’re meeting the requirements.

Due to changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, every rental property in New Zealand must have smoke alarms fitted by July 1, 2016. Landlords need to make sure a working smoke alarm of the right type is in place, and tenants must replace batteries and notify landlords of defects.

If you have a residential rental covered by the Residential Tenancy Act, you need to know about these requirements.

What are your responsibilities?

  • The landlord is responsible for making sure the correct smoke alarms are in place and in working order at the beginning of every new tenancy.
  • It’s against the law for landlords to fail to comply with smoke alarm obligations. The maximum penalty for this offence is $4000.
  • The tenant is responsible for replacing batteries (if required) during their tenancy.
  • It’s against the law for tenants to damage, disconnect or remove a smoke alarm. That includes removing the batteries (unless it’s to immediately replace expired batteries). The maximum fine for this offence is $3000.

How many smoke alarms are required?

  • There must be at least one working smoke alarm within three metres of each bedroom door (including any room a person might reasonably sleep in).
  • In a self-contained caravan, sleep out or similar there must be at least one working smoke alarm.
  • In multi-storey units there must be one smoke alarm on each level within the household unit, even if no-one sleeps there.
  • If you want to go beyond the minimum legal requirements, the New Zealand Fire Service recommends having a smoke alarm in every bedroom, living area and hallway.

What kind of smoke alarms are needed?

  • Long-life photoelectric smoke alarms are now required where there are no existing alarms. These are safer and more cost-effective over time, because the battery life is at least eight years.
  • You don’t need to immediately replace working smoke alarms. But when existing smoke alarms expire or need replacing, the replacements must be long-life photoelectric smoke alarms.
  • Hard wired smoke alarms are also acceptable.

Installing smoke alarms

  • All smoke alarms must be replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended replacement date stated on the alarm.
  • All new and replacement smoke alarms in rental properties must be installed according to placement requirements provided in the manufacturer’s instructions. The illustrations shown here from New Zealand Standard 4514 provide a simple guide on where to place alarms. You can also find helpful information on the NZ Fire Service’s website.
  • When smoke alarms are installed or replaced, you should ensure the alarms you purchase comply with the manufacturing standard: Australian Standard AS3786:1993; or equivalent international standard: UL217 (USA), ULCS531 (Canada), BS5446: Part 1 (United Kingdom), BS EN 14604 (United Kingdom) or ISO12239 (International). This should be displayed prominently on the packaging.

Find out more about the regulations and law changes on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.

Note: These regulations don’t override any additional compliance requirements for smoke alarms in other legislation (e.g: multi-unit residential complexes, student accommodation or boarding houses).

This article is based on information from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, released in June 2016. Strata takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information or for any consequences of any actions taken by the readers of this article.

 

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