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Did you know that the tenancy laws are changing?

The changes introduced in the newly passed The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020 will take effect starting 11 February 2021. The bill is aimed to encourage good-faith relationships in the renting environment and promotes tenants’ ability to assert their legal rights. 

 

11 February 2021: Phase 2

  • Tenants can request changes to the rental property and landlords must not decline if the changes are minor. Landlords must act in response within 21 days.
  • Rental properties must have a rental price listed. Landlords or vendors must not encourage rental bidding.
  • Landlords or their family members must give 63 days’ notice if they plan to occupy the property.
  • Tenants can give a minimum of 28 days notice to end a periodic or fixed-term tenancy.

 

Click below for a Summary of Changes 

https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/files/residential-tenancies-amendment-act-2020-factsheet.pdf

 

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Strata Title Administration has grown significantly since its establishment in 1996. The company now has a third office in Christchurch, led by Gillian Blakely, to add to its Auckland and Wellington offices. Gillian shares Strata’s ethos that responsiveness, teamed with experience and knowing the right contacts, is essential to providing quality body corporate management. Gillian leads Strata’s expansion throughout the South Island with her ten plus years of experience in body corporate management, specialising in natural disaster insurance and project managing the strengthening of buildings.

With the addition of the Christchurch office, Strata now has 43 body corporate specialists with broad experience in conflict resolution, team building, business negotiation, accounts and administration. The hard work we do behind the scenes and directly with the committees, chair people and owners helps our clients to meet their obligations under the Unit Title Act. The Body Corporate industry is thriving. With 25 years of service in the body corporate management industry and over 14,000 units comprised of nearly 600 bodies, corporate Strata is one of the leading and longest-standing Body Corporate Management companies in New Zealand. We are extremely proud to be able to service our Christchurch and South Island clients form our Christchurch office.


Principles:

i. Confidence in the systems embedded in Strata

ii. Providing the best practice across the governance of bodies corporate and other forms of multi-unit entities

iii. To operate the most professional body corporate company in New Zealand

iv. Striving to ensure that owners have quiet enjoyment of their property and being able to rely on Strata to provide the service that we are contracted to provide

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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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Under proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, every rental property in New Zealand must have smoke alarms fitted by 1 July 2016. Regulations will make landlords responsible for ensuring an operational smoke alarm is in place, and tenants responsible for replacing batteries or notifying landlords of defects.

For your information, please see below an extract from the MBIE website regarding the new smoke alarm law.   For more information click here.
“By 1 July 2016 all residential rental properties covered by the RTA must meet the following regulatory requirements:

  • There must be a minimum of one working smoke alarm within 3 metres of each bedroom door, and in a self-contained caravan, sleep out or similar there must be a minimum of one working smoke alarm.
  • The landlord is responsible for making sure smoke alarms are in working order at the beginning of every new tenancy.
  • The tenant is responsible for replacing batteries (if required) during their tenancy.
  • In multi-story units there must be one smoke alarm on each level within the household unit.
  • Long life photoelectric smoke alarms are now required where there are no existing alarms. When existing smoke alarms are replaced, the replacements must be long life photoelectric smoke alarms.
  • Hard wired smoke alarms are also acceptable.
  • 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 are to be installed in accordance with placement requirements provided in the manufacturer’s instructions. The illustrations below (click here for illustrations) 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.)

It is an unlawful act for tenants to cause or permit any interference with, or to render inoperative, any means of escape from fire – which includes smoke alarms. The maximum fine for this offence is $3,000.

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

This article is an extract from Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, 2 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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Every now and then you come across articles that you have to share and this is one of them. Written by Dino Biordi of LUNA – The Building Management Company, he talks about how to build a positive community within multi unit dwellings.  For the original article click here.

“Building a positive community is looking beyond yourself and your close circle of family and friends.  We need to be little more tribal in the sense that we can have better success in numbers for health, security, and overall well-being.  It’s the building blocks of how we survived and thrived historically as humans.

I will start by sharing something special witnessed by many over the weekend.  The multi-talented, yet humble, sportsman Sonny Bill Williams’ star shone when he demonstrated a random act of kindness.  Moments after the gold medal presentation for his Rugby World Cup win with the All Blacks, he is seen passing on his medal to a young All Blacks fan.  Williams gave the boy his medal after security had tackled him for running on to the pitch seeking an autograph.  Press coverage revealed Williams had also recently received global praise for offering up World Cup semi-final tickets to Syrian refugees in London, and also for comforting Springbok rival Jesse Kriel after their devastating loss to the All Blacks in the same tournament.  When asked why he gave his gold medal away, he responded that he felt that the medal was better around the kids neck, not his.  He went on to say defending the World Cup was “by far the best feeling” he’d enjoyed in his career, declaring “you’re doing it all with your best mates”.  Williams shows us through his actions that it’s all about the experience, the team environment and enjoying the moment – not about self-indulgence and material worth.

Similarly, we can all thrive in a community from greater compassion and by better connecting with each other, regardless of whether we’re the All Blacks Rugby team, friends, neighbours, or part of a larger community.  Building a solid network in your neighbourhood can give you a sense of belonging, security, and wellbeing, and a tightly-knit Strata Community can make you feel part of a larger purpose than yourself.

Here are some tips on how you can make a start in the right direction:

1.  Put on a social party in and around common areas (garden areas if possible).  Have your Building Manager distribute a flyer for a wine and cheese tasting party, BBQ, or a movie-night get together to swap old DVDs.  There are many good reasons for everyone to participate and share in the hospitality.  More inclusive social events that appeal to residents can promote dialog and subsequently create a larger positive footprint in your Strata Community.

2.  Allow your Building Manager to establish a book cupboard or shelf for people to donate their books and for others to borrow them just like a tiny local library.  All that is needed is a bookshelf in a secured part of the common area with a register for recording whether you’re borrowing, returning, or donating a book.

3.  A someone from the Executive Committee (or Subcommittee) if they are able to create a social page on the developments website for residents.  Here they’ll be able to log in and have a say, book in facilities, buy and sell goods, or update each other with local promotional business or social deals.  It’s possible, in some cases, to also have your Building Manager add this interface to your existing Building Management System.  Another option that is gaining momentum is to create a closed Facebook page specific to your Strata Community.  You can choose to have this viewed only by occupants that are pre-approved by Admin users.

4.  It always feels good to give someone a warm welcome to the building or community.  Pop in unplanned, (like the ‘old days’), and drop a gift such as a homemade cake, a fruit basket, cookies, or bottle of wine – and always with a welcome note.  Ten minutes spent introducing yourselves and offering a hand with anything is all it takes!  It’s a great way to meet people and build trust and rapport…and guess what – if you ever need something like a cup of sugar or have them feed the cat, chances are they’ll be the first to say “no problem!”.

5.  Some say that print is dying out, but I believe a local printed newsletter is still one of the best ways to clearly communicate with your community.  Your Building Manager could create one each month with input from EC members and residents.  The newsletter could be about anything, but would usually include a reminder of some of the ‘do’s and don’ts’, upcoming events, waste management, any project works in process, and maybe the odd entertaining or general interest piece!

These five points are just a start to building a positive Strata Community and could extend to other possibilities such as a shared veggie garden, environmental projects, and weekly fitness or arts and crafts classes.  I have seen all of these examples working well, resulting in added value for the community and future buyers.

Maybe we need to start asking ourselves how we can better contribute to the greater community.  Assess who you are and ask yourself honestly – do I give back or do I just take?  Do I want to be known as that awesome neighbour?  Set a positive tone in your community by adding value in a way that others might just follow.  Personally, I always check on my elderly neighbors to ensure their safety, take their bins out, or even pick up some jam while at the store. Yes, sometimes I’m racing out and don’t have time to listen to a story that inevitably unfolds, but when I do hear them out, they ground me with every word uttered.”

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Welcome to Strata’s new-look website. We hope you enjoy our fresh look and approach.
Our new website is designed to answer your Frequently Asked Questions about managing your body corporate. It also offers handy information sections on Insurance, Annual General Meetings and Governance.
We’re excited to feature a News page, which keeps you up-to-date with all the latest info from the Body Corporate management industry, and also about what’s happening here at Strata!
Don’t forget to check out our social media sites as well – you can find links to these in the top right hand corner of the website.
Feedback is appreciated!

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