Property sale and purchase

Important to get the GST component right

Looking for your first home?

Help to get your foot in the door

Property briefs

Unit Titles Act 2010: are you complying?

Tenure review of Crown pastoral land to end

What is the government proposing?

National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry

Review due in May

The bank of mum and dad

Contributions by family members to the purchase of a property and how this is recorded can affect property ownership.

No enduring power of attorney

Most people are now aware of the importance of having an enduring power of attorney (EPA).

The agreement for sale and purchase

Checking the conditions Given the significant financial commitment involved in purchasing a property, you want to make sure your investment is sound.

Buying a cross lease property

Quite different from a fee simple title New Zealanders love to talk about property. There are a multitude of topics relating to property that Kiwis have an intimate knowledge and...

Changes affecting every buyer of residential land

Overseas Investment Amendment Act 2018 now in force The Overseas Investment Amendment Bill has become law and is now the Overseas Investment Amendment Act 2018 (the OIA Act).

Validating imperfect wills

What can be done? For wills to be valid they must comply with a number of legal formalities; they must be in writing and there must be two witnesses who...

Private land with public access

How is access granted? Our ability to access the ‘great outdoors’ in New Zealand is seen as something of a citizen’s right.

More updates on property matters

If you have been following our articles about foreign residential investment, P contamination and warming up Kiwi homes, here are the latest updates on each topic. We’re pleased to let you know there is some good news here.

The fee is how much?

People who have secured a mortgage know that banks often sweeten the deal by providing a contribution towards legal fees. But how much are legal fees for a property transaction and why aren’t they a standard amount? We know people aren’t always comfortable talking about lawyers’ fees. Here’s how it all works.

The fundamentals of flatting

Remember going flatting for the first time? It’s an exciting time, but it can present problems for young people if they’re focused on fun and not the fundamentals. Wouldn’t it have made life easier if someone had explained your legal obligations from the start? Here’s a quick how-to guide for parents with children about to go flatting.

Buying from a developer is the same as a builder, right?

You’d be forgiven for thinking the answer is yes. It’s almost the same, but the ‘almost’ is rather an important distinction and it can come with pitfalls.

I wish to register a complaint: pre-purchase inspections

Remember the famous Monty Python sketch where John Cleese purchases a parrot which isn’t in the condition he expected? All too often, the same happens when buying property.

Anti-money laundering

The sale and purchase of property usually involves transacting a significant sum of money. From July this year, all law firms will be required to comply with anti-money laundering legislation.

Bright-line extension announced

The Minister of Revenue announced an extension to the bright-line test to help keep the property market under control.

Insulate before it’s too late

Landlords, if you haven’t made your rentals safe and healthy for tenants, now is the time to get busy. Otherwise, you will be looking down the barrel of a hefty fine.

Caution required: three common scenarios with big consequences

In these property briefs, we have three situations which seem straightforward, but often aren’t, which can land the unwary in hot water.

Your legal obligations as an Airbnb host

As a follow up to our article about the tax implications for renting your accommodation as a holiday home, we’re taking a look at your legal obligations to your lender,...

Why you should talk to a lawyer before you buy property

Buying a house is a stressful process in itself, but if you’re competing for a purchase in a seller’s market, which has been the case for some time, the pressure...

A practical approach to trusts

The Trusts Bill introduced on the 1st August this year updates the Trustee Act 1956 and reflects decisions made about trusts in common law.

Four more hazards to note...

In these briefs, we have four updates on topics which also present potential risks and hazards for the unwary: new health and safety legislation coming into effect, claims against rural...


We live in a region that gets very dry in summer. Last year’s fire that spread through areas forested with pine trees was a good wake up call for people...

What happens to rural property when relationships break down?

More to the point: what happens if your property is held in a trust? Trusts are arguably a New Zealand institution for ensuring property is passed on to specific beneficiaries,...

Three tips to protect yourself from property related problems

Buying, selling and owning property is usually straightforward… until it isn’t. These property briefs look at three such scenarios: How to avoid buying a property with insurance problems, how to...

Rental properties: what happens when tenants don’t pay?

Rental properties are an excellent source of income if you need extra money, want to pay off your mortgage faster or save for your retirement… unless your tenant doesn’t pay...

Is your agreement to lease working for your business?

People sometimes hurry into an agreement to lease commercial property. Time is money and delays to setting up a business can mean delays to generating income.

More on Kiwisaver, multi offers and insulation

Here are three useful updates about topics covered in previous articles: using your Kiwisaver funds to buy your first home, buying homes in a multi offer scenario, and grants for...

Make money while you’re on holiday

An easy way to make a bit of money while you’re on holiday is to rent out your property as an Airbnb.

Is your shared driveway driving you nuts?

Shared driveways are regular hotbeds for disputes between neighbours. As demand for housing increases, and as sections are subdivided, shared driveways are going to become more common.

Rural property and natural disasters...

The Kaikoura earthquake late last year is a timely reminder to check you’re prepared for a natural disaster.

How to avoid a million dollar mistake...

If you’re buying or selling property, it pays for both parties to check the information in the documents supporting due diligence is accurate.

Three tips for property buyers and sellers

As always, we like to finish up the round of articles with three helpful hints for buying and selling property.

Buying a house? Don’t sign just yet...

So you’ve viewed numerous homes and have finally found one that you think you’d like to buy.

The time to listen to your lawyer is… now!

Throughout life, people give you advice: parents, friends, doctors… the list goes on and on. Hindsight can be a tough teacher when we don’t listen, which is why lawyers constantly...

So you’re a farmer. Are you also a landlord?

If you provide accommodation for staff on your farm, you’re subject to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986.

Before you sign… have you checked the chattels?

Moving house can be a big job. On your first night, you’ll want to celebrate with a nice meal and a hot shower.

How KiwiSaver can help you into your first home.

With rising house prices and stricter conditions for finance, people are saying the Kiwi dream of owning a home is over.

Does your property have P-contamination?

Before you answer, consider the fact that every day more Kiwis find out they have been living in methamphetamine (P)-contaminated properties.

Commercial property rent reviews could be hurting you in the pocket.

Commercial property owners are often attracted to an annual CPI rent review. Standard agreements and deeds of lease make it very easy to agree to what seems like an annual...

A property lawyer can help ensure you don’t get caught out when making connections.

A property lawyer can help you ensure you are signing an appropriate agreement. If you’re thinking about purchasing a section, be aware of the time and cost involved to get...

Legal Boundaries: Why titles matter

You have just moved into your new home and your neighbour knocks on your door. They say that your garage is two metres into their boundary, and that they need...

Digital Assets – What happens to them?

Previously, when a person died the executors or administrators of their estate have waded through the paperwork that can be located to find details of bank accounts, investments and organisations...

Be Careful with Long-term Contracts

Many contractual relationships last for years and, over time, the parties may forget, or change, their understanding of what was originally agreed.

Company or Trust

The two most common farm-owning entities are either a company or a trust. Often, a farming operation is carried out with a mix of trust ownership (typically owning the land)...

The Bright-line Test

In our Winter edition (page 4) we noted the government’s proposed property taxation changes and ‘bright-line’ test.

Look before you leap into a contract

In a bustling real estate market, significant pressure is often placed on purchasers to make an offer in a short timeframe, often with few conditions (if any).

Selling your property? Avoid payment of commission to more than one agent

It’s surprising that when selling property, the seller often pays little attention to the terms of the real estate agent’s listing agreement – particularly when there may a substantial sum...

Contact us early on in the subdivision process, not right at the end

As you will know lawyers and legal executives are involved in many stages of the subdivision process as it grows from an idea in a developer’s mind through to the...

IRD numbers required for trusts to buy and sell residential property from 1 October 2015

This could cause a problem for any trust if the sale or purchase is due to settle after that date.

Should you change your trustees? Always good to review

If you set up your trust some years ago, it may be time to consider whether the trustees you appointed are still right for the role.

The Health and Safety Reform Bill: Select Committee reports back

On 24 July, the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee reported back to Parliament on the Health and Safety Reform Bill.

Section 21 Agreements and Trusts

Marriage, in the eyes of the law, is a largely – although not entirely – outdated institution; it’s now ‘relationships’ that are important.

Red-zoned earthquake claimants entitled to more

Canterbury’s red-zoned homeowners have recently received a boost following a Supreme Court decision¹. In Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited v Avonside Holdings Limited, Avonside’s property was damaged beyond economic repair...

Doing Up Your House?

If you’re looking at renovating your house, you should be aware that a building consent may be needed for more work than you think.

Student Flats

The start of semester two in student centres, like Dunedin, signals the beginning of the search for the perfect flat for the coming year.

Buying Property? Look a little deeper...

Before you buy a property, it’s prudent to check for any geotechnical issues. Often any known geotechnical matters or hazards are highlighted in the Land Information Memorandum (LIM) from your...

Taxing property gains: the proposed 'bright line' test

In May the government announced proposed changes to the tax rules for New Zealand and non-resident investors who buy residential property with the intention of selling the property and making...

The changing course of a river can alter your boundaries

When you bought your land, your lawyer will have sent you a search copy of the title to your property as recorded on the register at Land Information New Zealand (LINZ).

Get a Building Report when you're buying a new house

For many of us, buying a home is the largest purchase we will ever make. That’s why spending a few hundred dollars on a pre-purchase building report is so important...

Rent Reviews

Changes to the standard form of the Auckland District Law Society (ADLS) Deed of Lease now make it possible for landlords to review the annual rent payable by either a...

The value of a LIM report

It’s a common misconception that you don’t need a Land Information Memorandum (LIM) report when you buy bare land, or when the house and buildings have been signed off by...

Buying Rural Property

When buying any business, assets or property it’s important to undertake a due diligence investigation into what you are looking to buy.

Easements on Rural Land

An easement is defined as ‘a right of one person is respect of another person’s land.’ For rural properties these rights can often be crucial issues for the use of...

Home Buyers

Buying a home can be daunting – especially if you are doing it for the first time.

Protecting Your Digital Assets

Ten years ago the idea of protecting your digital assets after your death, or if you lost mental capacity, would have been regarded as absurd.

New Legislation for Builders

On 1 January 2015 the Building Amendment Act 2013 came into force. As well as strengthening the consumer protection provisions currently in the Building Act 2004, it also implements new...

Guarantees: Assuming the Risk

Guarantees are a common form of credit enhancement often required by banks and other lenders before they will provide finance, including loan advances.

Financial markets overhaul complete

On 1 December 2014 the second phase of the implementation of the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 came into force.

Be cautious about being a guarantor

While guarantees are a very useful tool, particularly for a debtor wanting to ‘get ahead’, as guarantor you should be cautious about entering into a contract such as this, particularly...

Residential Building Contracts: Homework is important when building

Building a new home can be exciting, as well as being rather daunting. Stories abound of disappointments and building hassles.

Facebook: Is this your personal property or not?

Within five seconds, you can take a photo on a smart phone and share it with the world. Or the world on Facebook.

Owning a cross lease

A cross lease title consists of two parts; the first is an undivided share of the whole piece of land that the dwelling or ‘flats’ are built on; the second...

Cross lease insurance

The Memorandum of Lease states that you must keep your property insured at all times. You may insure your own flat independently or there may be an arrangement where all...

Making alterations to your dwelling on a cross lease title

If your alteration is structural but non-load bearing, you’ll need consent from the other flat owners. This could include moving internal doors or partitions.

All Trustees Must Sign when Dealing with Trust Assets

“When establishing a family trust that usually owns your family home and some investments, the usual ‘mum and dad’ trust has you and your partner as trustees, together with an...

Paper Roads and Public Access

“Paper roads are relatively widespread across New Zealand farmland. They are more precisely called ‘unformed legal roads’ and have the same legal status as any other legal road.

Joint tenancy v tenancy in common

The first option, and the most common form of ownership, is known as a ‘joint tenancy’.

Relationship property update: 30/70 asset split

After we had put this Winter edition together, a High Court decision2 was delivered in a relationship property situation involving a Wellington medical specialist and his wife.

P-lab testing

Methamphetamine (commonly known as ‘P’ or ‘meth’) contamination is an increasing problem in New Zealand properties. The by-products of P-use and manufacture are extremely dangerous.

Cross leases

Cross leasing was a very popular form of subdivision in the 1960s as a means to avoid strict planning rules.

Kid Gloves Needed

GST is always something that you can’t trifle with, particularly when you’re completing the sale or purchase of a property.

Retirement Village Living

When the family home no longer suits your needs and the time is right to consider your future requirements, many New Zealanders choose to move to a retirement village.

Change on the way for taxation of property investment

Residential property has long been a favourite investment for Kiwis looking to take advantage of no capital gains tax and a rising market.

Finance conditions for Sale & Purchase Agreements

With the standard ADLS/REINZ Agreement for Sale & Purchase containing a ‘subject to finance’ condition, a purchaser must do all things reasonably necessary to arrange finance on or before the...

Signing on Behalf of Trustees

Trustees sometimes need to sign documents in a hurry. An example is bank mortgage documents which may need to be signed so that the trust can borrow to cover expenditure.

Changes to the ADLS/REINZ Agreement for Sale & Purchase

Changes have recently been made to the ADLS/REINZ Agreement for Sale & Purchase; this is the standard form of Agreement used in almost all New Zealand property transactions.

A reminder: buyers beware of GST zero-rating

The Taxation (GST and Remedial Matters) Act 2010 (TGRM) was created to streamline administrative costs to the IRD and to prevent ‘phoenix’ GST schemes where land was transferred between associated...

Joint Tenancy and Tenancy in Common

If you are thinking you would like to own property or assets with your spouse, partner or friend (or several others) you will need to decide on the form of...

Rest home subsidies and the abolition of gift duty

Recently, much has been made of the government’s intention to do away with gift duty from 1 October.

New Unit Titles Legislation now in Force

On 20 June 2011 the Unit Titles Act 2010 and the Unit Titles Regulations 2011 came into effect.

Buying and selling a unit title property: management agreements

Since the Unit Titles Act 2010 came into force on 20 June 2011, we expect to see a greater level of transparency and disclosure of relevant information in respect of...

GST on land transactions

On 1 April 2011, the GST position for some land transactions took effect. Where property including land is sold between two GST-registered parties, the transaction will be ‘zero-rated’ for GST purposes.

Christchurch earthquake: buying property

Property buyers and sellers, together with their lawyers, are generally adapting well to the difficult circumstances surrounding the recent Canterbury earthquakes.

The 'Solicitor's Approval' Clause

Have you ever signed an Agreement for Sale & Purchase without first giving it to your lawyer to consider? What would happen if something went wrong with the contract? You...

Encumbrances: What does the future hold?

The Law Commission has recently made recommendations for a proposed new Land Transfer Act to replace the current Land Transfer Act 1952.

Abolition of gift duty: Implication of family trusts

The announcement in October that the government intends to abolish gift duty will affect all people with current gifting programmes in place after the transfer of ownership of property into...

Transferring Assets during a Relationship

The transfer of assets during a relationship does not guarantee their protection if your relationship then breaks down and your spouse or partner makes a claim.

Landlocked Land

You own a secluded property amongst lush greenery in a hillside suburb. The only access is via a steep pedestrian path.

Tenants in Common versus Joint Tenancy

When buying property it is important to consider the type of ownership that is appropriate for your particular circumstances.

Loss Attributing Qualifying Companies

If you have an investment making losses and you want to pay less income tax, an LAQC may be a useful investment vehicle for you.

Taxing Property Transactions - When buying, be careful

Many of you may have seen the ‘Property Climbers’ programme on television which must greatly amuse the Inland Revenue Department.