Property Ownership

Ian Mellett of Quay Law, Auckland answers questions frequently raised by the potential investors pertaining to the type of property ownership.  The most common forms of ownership in New Zealand are:
  • Fee simple: This represents a form of freehold ownership and in essence represents absolute ownership of the property.
  • Leasehold: This is a form of property tenure where one party buys the right to occupy land or a building for a given length of time.  Until the end of the lease period the leaseholder has the right to remain in occupation as an assured tenant paying an agreed rent to the owner. 
  • Cross lease: This is a hybrid form of multi-unit tenure in which each owner has an undivided share of the underlying freehold as tenants in common, and is granted a registered leasehold estate of the particular unit or flat occupied.  Effectively the property owners share ownership of the land and each owner leases their building from the other owners, which together form the cross lease title.
  • Stratum estate: Under the Unit Titles Act 1972 the deposit of a unit plan has the effect of creating in each unit (usually multi-unit dwellings, shops, offices or industrial premises) a new kind of statutory estate called a stratum estate in freehold, or a stratum estate in leasehold, depending on whether the land which was subdivided into units was freehold or leasehold.
It is essential to determine, upfront, the exact nature of the form of property ownership when embarking upon a purchase of any property.  It is beneficial to have your lawyer cast his/her eye over a potential purchase agreement, before you sign the document, to ensure that you fully understand the nature and form of property ownership involved.


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