New Zealand Law Society - Key issues in property law

Key issues in property law

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A large number of matters will impact on property lawyers in the year ahead, and this year’s Property Law Conference will focus on a series of key issues relevant in 2016 and beyond, the conference chair, Tim Jones, says.

Organised by NZLS CLE Ltd, the conference will be held in Auckland on 13 and 14 June, along with a live web stream.

One of the top topics that will be “front and centre” is the resident withholding tax (RWT) – and the new two-year bright-line test. The proposed RWT is expected to apply from 1 July.

“Flowing out of that there will need to be some changes in the standard form of agreement,” Mr Jones says.

“By June we will have a good flavour of what we’re on about, and hopefully some really good discussions at the conference – explaining how it will work in practice, areas of concern for property lawyers and how we will deal with things.

“Another timely topic is the proliferation of properties being affected by P labs, so we are going to have a presentation by some experts on that.”

This session will be presented by Paul Parker and Lucy Smith of Hobsonville Land Company, a subsidiary of Housing NZ, which has had some relevant experience in dealing with methamphetamine (or P) contaminated properties.

This session will deal not so much with the contractual side but the fact that they happen at all and what you need to do to deal with those sorts of issues down the track.

Residential construction

“And we’ve got a session, which I think is very relevant to property lawyers at the moment, on construction contracts for residential building projects. The relevance of that is that a lot of building is going on around the country generally and a lot of people have clients who are asking about building contracts.”

The new rules applying to residential buildings came into force on 1 January 2015 and significant changes to the Construction Contracts Act 2002 are being introduced in three instalments.

“These have really been off the table for a long time, but have now come back in again,” Mr Jones says.

“A lot of people are approaching us on how they deal with children buying a property and so we have a session on first home buyers and KiwiSaver issues – the government grants and also dealing broadly with how you handle first home buyers and their financial needs in a family environment, which can be tricky.

“We’ve also got a session on leaky buildings, which is prevalent throughout the country.

“We have a session on a Practising Well topic, which is mindfulness.” Karen Ross, an expert coach, trainer and speaker, will be running that session. Her work is essentially about Using Your Brain on Purpose. She asks: “are you running your brain, or is your brain running you?”

“The other point about the conference, which I think is attractive, is that we have four separate sessions – breakout sessions, which will be shorter, more snappy sessions and gives people choice – which hasn’t been done for a few years,” Mr Jones says.

“Then there are the staples that we’ve always had like trusts and estates planning with a particular bent this year on what it means for blended families, because that is a very common one. We’ve got a session on problems with the Unit Titles Act, which is another perennial. Unit Titles is a hot topic at the moment, so that’s going to be good.

Open panel

“One session which we are putting up which is new, and which hasn’t been done at the conference as far as I know, is to have an open panel session for about an hour with some members of the Property Law Section senior echelon, talking about legal and ethical topics which people are prepared to pose on the day or send in beforehand.

“I will look forward to that, because it will give people the opportunity to ask questions anonymously, which they may be too scared to ask, or ethical issues they want to touch on or those sorts of things. So it will be a good session.”

Mr Jones will chair that session, and the panellists are Debra Dorrington, Joanna Pidgeon, Ian Haynes and Keith McClure.

The conference, Mr Jones says, has received “really good sponsorship from ASB this year. ASB has supported the Property Law Section and the Law Society for many years.”

Early bird registrations for the Property Law Conference close on 13 May and registrations for the live web stream close at 3pm on 10 June. For more information about the conference see, or phone 0800 333 111.

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