Spring 2015 – Here’s to a busy, busy Spring!
 

As this edition of our newsletter goes to the press, we’re just over a month away from the fifth anniversary of the September quake that turned our city upside-down (and, arguably, inside out as well).

In some ways, five years feels like hardly any time at all, but in other ways we’re all acutely aware of the toll those years of disruption and uncertainty have taken.

So it’s reassuring to see so much frantic activity as the rebuild is really beginning to make its mark in a positive sense all over the city and the region.

According to The Press, around $100 million a week is being spent across Christchurch, and there’s even talk that the rebuild has reached its peak, with so many major private building projects underway, and around three quarters of the underground services work (such as sewers and water mains) complete.

Others argue we’re not there yet, given some of the public and privately funded work on major projects has not begun. Some of the ‘anchor’ projects, like the Convention Centre, the Metro Sports Centre and the eastern frame residential project have not yet started. Ngai Tahu’s significant project at the King Edward Barracks site will also be starting soon, so those arguing we’re not at the peak yet might well have a point.

Regardless, we’ll be seeing a lot of construction and development activity across the city and the region for another five years to come. And with all the action, it’s exciting to see the new city unfold so quickly in front of our eyes.

Other reassuring news comes with EQC’s recent announcement that they’re close to closing out all 69,000 Canterbury claims – 98% in fact.

Public consultation has just closed on the proposed wind-up of CERA and the suggested distribution of powers between Christchurch City Council and central Government, so we watch with interest any new developments in that arena.

On the commercial front, low interest rates and the low NZ dollar is making investing in commercial property an attractive option, and there are reports of an influx of offshore funds investing in New Zealand’s commercial property space.

Closer to home, it’s been a fairly steady Winter for house prices, although we’ve seen a marked increase in volume – with a 14% increase in the numbers of houses sold in June throughout the region compared to the same time last year.

Thanks to that increase in volume, we’re expecting a busy Spring, and if you’d like to know more about how we can help you choose the best time for selling, please give us a call anytime.

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Sam Cowdy & Nick Cowdy


Check your chattels!

When buying and selling property, it is common for the condition of chattels which are included in the sale to be overlooked by a vendor or a purchaser. Checking the condition of the chattels included in a sale is part of completing proper due diligence before making an offer. There are however certain protections for purchasers.

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Chattels vs Fixtures

It is important to distinguish between a chattel and a fixture. Generally speaking, an item is a chattel if it can be easily removed from the property without causing noticeable damage. There are certainly grey areas. For example, if carpet is glued to the floor, it could be deemed a fixture, but carpet which is fitted by the ‘smooth edge’ method could be deemed a chattel. If there is uncertainty as to whether an item is a chattel or a fixture, it should be included in the chattels list of the sale and purchase agreement (“Agreement”).

“Reasonable working order”

chattels2Under the general terms of an Agreement, the vendor warrants that as at the settlement date, all chattels identified in the Agreement are in reasonable working order and in all other respects are in the state of repair as they were at the date of the Agreement (fair wear and tear excepted).

As a purchaser, you should check the condition of the chattels both prior to making an offer and prior to settlement. It is a good idea to make a photographic record at the time of making the offer. Under the Agreement, you have the right to conduct one presettlement inspection of the property. You should check that the chattels are in the same state of repair as they were when you signed the Agreement (fair wear and tear excepted).

An issue which can cause contention is when a chattel (for example, an oven) is no longer working when a purchaser
is completing their pre-settlement inspection. In most cases, the vendor will not be obliged to remedy the issue because the oven was in a poor state of repair as at the date of the Agreement and has stopped working from fair wear and tear. It is up to the purchaser to check the chattels prior to signing the Agreement.

If a chattel has been removed or has been damaged beyond ordinary fair wear and tear, the purchaser has the right to be compensated but does not have the right to delay settlement beyond the settlement date.

Conclusion

It is easy to overlook the chattels section of an Agreement, but to do so may cause disagreements between the parties and result in additional costs. Both vendor and purchaser should be mindful of not only which chattels form part of the sale, but also the condition of those chattels as at the date of the Agreement.

This article is intended only to provide a summary of the subject matter. It does not purport to be legal advice.

Please contact Michael if you require any further information on this subject.

Michael Vanner is a Solicitor in the Property Team at Saunders Robinson Brown.  Michael’s contact details are: 03 378 0513 or michael.vanner@srblaw.co.nz


CHANGES TO THE RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES ACT – What Landlords need to know!

Significant changes to the Residential Tenancies Act are afoot, with important implications for every single Kiwi landlord. Nick Smith, Minister for Building and Housing, announced the new requirements for insulation, smoke alarms, and better enforcement and faster resolution of abandoned tenancies to the Act last month, and a number of these changes are immediate.

Cowdy and Co have a strong presence in the property management market in Christchurch, and we’ve worked hard to come up to speed on these changes so we can help our landlord clients adapt to these new regulations quickly and as cost-effectively as possible.

The Changes

prop man manwebWhilst there are a large number of actual technical changes to the Act, we want to highlight the ones that stand out or are likely to require action by landlords in the near future.

Insulation
New insulation standards will require ceiling (at least 70 mm thick) and ‘reasonable’ underfloor insulation installed in all residential tenancy properties. Social housing landlords have till July next year to comply, and all other landlords will have till 1 July 2019 (four years) to bring their properties up to standard.

The new rules will also require a declaration of the levels of insulation in the ceilings, walls and underfloor areas of the property to be included in new tenancy agreements from July next year.

Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarms will also be required in all tenanted properties from 1 July 2016. These regulations will make landlords responsible for ensuring an operational smoke alarm is in place at the beginning of a tenancy, and tenants will be responsible for replacing batteries or notifying landlords of any defects.

Long life (10-year) photoelectric alarms will be required where there is no existing alarm or when replacing an
existing alarm. A minimum of 1 working smoke alarm in the hall or similar, within 3m of each bedroom door is compulsory.

Record Keeping
Another small alteration to the Act relates to record keeping. There is now a requirement that landlords must keep records relating to a tenancy for a minimum of 7 years after a tenancy ends.

This means, as a landlord, you’ll need to keep all the paperwork relating to a specific tenancy – not just relating to the property or the financial information that the IRD requires.

Enforcement
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will have new powers to investigate and prosecute landlords for breaking tenancy laws as part of these reforms, particularly where there is risk to the health and safety of tenants. The changes will also ensure tenants can take concerns to the Tenancy Tribunal without fear of being evicted for doing so.

But it’s not all about the tenants. The changes also bring in a new 10-day process that will enable retenanting of properties where a tenant abandons a property with no intention of returning.

This is good news for landlords because the current process can take up to six weeks, leaving a house empty and the landlord out of pocket.

What we’re doing to help

Whilst these changes may seem a little overwhelming for landlords – especially those new to the market or those with a small portfolio – we’ve done our homework and are ready to help.

Insulation – we can manage the whole retrofitting process for you. From the property assessment and quote through to the installation and inspection. We’ve got great relationships with insulation suppliers and can ensure you get a quality job done that is value for money.

We will be contacting all our clients to determine the types of insulation each property has so we can take care of any compliance issues for all our managed properties.

Smoke Alarms – Cowdy and Co are working closely with an international, specialist smoke alarm company, and we’ve been able to offer all Cowdy and Co landlords an annual assessment service for just $99 per year, per property. For more information, give us a call, or email propertymanagement@cowdy.co.nz .

Record Keeping – We’re a little bit OCD when it comes to record keeping for the properties we manage. By using our property management service, your record-keeping responsibilities will be covered, simply and effectively.

Enforcement – Because MBIE’s new powers can really help landlords looking to re-tenant a property after the previous tenants have abandoned it, we can help you step through the new process once it comes into effect, and help get the property generating an income as quickly as possible.

Talk to us today!

Cowdy and Co’s award-winning property management team is ready and waiting to help you with all the aspects of being a residential landlord – from the complexities of meeting your legislative requirements, to the simple tasks that need to be done day-in, day out.

Call Janice and her team anytime on 03 355 6686.


Preparing for Spring

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New to Cowdy & Co

Racheal Milne – Residential Sales Consultant

I live in: Somerfield.

How long have I lived in Christchurch: 27 years.

Education: Kaikoura High School, Sales and Financial Training with Westpac, National Certificate in Real Estate.
Family: My two gorgeous teenage boys and a very large extended family.

Personal statement: I combine my extensive background in banking with a detailed knowledge of the Canterbury housing market to provide my clients with a personalised and professional service that meets all their property market needs.

I love my role and gain great personal satisfaction from helping people realise their goals through a variety of real estate options. I believe the key is effective communication, a process that is paramount in providing an ethical and professional service.

A client-based approach to my role is essential. That means listening carefully to your needs. Once we agree that these have been understood, I will provide you with a detailed action plan to make sure you achieve your goals. So, whether you are purchasing or selling, experienced or new to the market, I am available to support you to achieve your real estate goals.

Previous jobs: Westpac lending consultant for 12 years, and two years as a self-employed mortgage broker.

In my spare time: Working in real estate, undertaking my house renovations and being a taxi for my boys doesn’t leave much for that ‘spare time’ stuff.

The charity I support the most: Idea Services (IHC). My mum has worked there since I was 12.

Favourite home cooked meal: Fresh seafood on an old fashioned Kiwi BBQ!

Favourite restaurant: Spice Paragon.

Favourite holiday destination: My Dad’s house on the beach in Kaikoura.

Favourite thing to do in Christchurch: Watching my youngest son play rugby.

Favourite book: Gone with the Wind (I have read it 5 times since I was 17).

Favourite TV show: Grand Designs, of course!


Temporary changes to the Land Use Recovery Plan

To support the needs of the residential recovery, Christchurch City Council has announced some amendments to the Christchurch City Plan and the Land Use Recovery Plan, including the use of a short-term Enhanced Development Mechanism, which allows for opportunities to redevelop existing sites to a higher-density level than previously zoned.

This means that if you own property of a reasonable size that you’d like to subdivide, or add extra dwellings to your property, you’ve got a three and a half year window to take advantage of a fast-tracked process with the council, providing it meets the criteria for the amendment to the City Plan.

These enhancements are designed to enable comprehensive, higher density development of suitably sized and located sites within existing lower-to-mediumdensity residential areas within the city. The Enhanced Development Mechanism:

  • ensures high quality urban design and onsite amenity
  • ensures appropriate access to local services and facilities
  • ensures development is integrated with and sympathetic to the amenity of existing neighbourhoods and adjoining sites
  • ensures a range of housing types are provided
  • does not promote land banking by being completed in accordance with a plan for the staging of development and approved under these provisions.

Constraints to Enhanced Development include:

  • vulnerability to natural hazards
  • inadequate infrastructure capacity
  • adverse effects on Special Amenity Areas
  • reverse sensitivity on existing heavy industrial areas, Christchurch International Airport, and arterial traffic routes, and railway lines.

Proud Supporters of the Christchurch City Mission

Once again the Cowdy & Co team took up a generous collection for the Christchurch City Mission, this time in response to their Paper Bag Appeal in The Press. A range of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, blankets, food items and household goods were delivered to the City Mission by our property management team.

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Pictured left to right: Jess Watson, Gina Dalley, Catherine Flanagan, Sarah Talbot, Amanda Lagor, Stacey Cox & Lorna Sutherland.

To find out how you can donate visit the City Mission website, www.citymission.org.nz