From the Property Team
We’ve been discussing a recent news article where a property owner got into hot water after demolishing their own house and building a new one. Sound more complex than you would expect? That’s because they owned the property under a ‘cross-lease’ title without fully understanding what that meant.
Do you know whose consent you need when planning alterations to your property? We’re here to make this simple for you.
If you want to carry out structural alterations (as opposed to non-structural alterations like installing new wardrobes), you’ll need to consider two things:
Your local council likely has all relevant consent information on their website, or readily available from their Planning and/or Building Compliance and Consents Team.
You may already hold a copy of your property’s title, but without having extensive experience interpreting them, they can make little sense.
Here’s what different the different types of property titles mean when it comes to changes to your property:
A fee simple title grants the owner the freedom of full, permanent and absolute tenure in the land. A fee simple title is considered to be the title that has the greatest benefit to the owner in respect of enjoyment and use. You own the whole of the land and are able to make any additions or alterations to your property with only council bylaws and consent requirements to consider.
Unit titles commonly apply to apartments; they grant ownership of a defined part of a building or building complex. They also grant shared ownership of common areas such as lifts, lobbies, driveways or gardens. Unit title properties are managed by a Body Corporate. The Body Corporate may impose specific requirements with regard to style, colour or materials used for any alterations – structural or otherwise. They may also specify that you cannot make any structural alterations without their consent, adding another layer of requirements to any alterations you wish to make. It’s important to take any Body Corporate rules into consideration when purchasing a property as they may restrict your vision for the future.
If you have a cross lease title, you own your home plus an undivided share in the land under all homes on the cross lease. All owners then lease the land from all other owners (hence the term ‘cross lease’). When you are considering making significant changes to your home (or other structure) you really need to know the terms of the cross lease. It will usually specify that you must obtain the consent of the other landowners (which they cannot unreasonably withhold). Any alterations that change the footprint of the structure will also need a surveyor to complete a new flat plan for the property so that a new cross lease can be registered. This does mean additional costs for your project, but the long term benefit is in having a full and correct title when the time comes to sell.
Need More Info?
Our property team reviews and interprets the information on titles every day! If you want a hand understanding yours and what you need to do before you undertake your next project give us a call on 04 970 3600 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org