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Buying a house - are you covered?

Published: 7th August 2017

Author: Bronwyn Lane, Knapps Lawyers

Published in: Property e.Speaking | Issue #25

Buying a house – are you covered?

If you’re buying a house, you will of course need insurance cover for your new property, and your lender will require it.

Here we pinpoint some specific items that some purchasers overlook and, if checked, could avoid later expense:

  • Look at the condition of the roof and whether or not there is any evidence of water leaking in around existing vents or skylights
  • Check the type of water pipe used in the construction. Some pipe products used in the 1970–90 period only had a 30 year lifespan!
  • Inspect retaining walls. Have they been well maintained and does your insurance cover them?
  • Check the state of the boundary fences. If they have been poorly maintained your insurance may not cover them when they fall down
  • Ensure any renovations have been properly permitted and completed, and
  • Check the drainage pipes. You don’t want to find out they’re blocked when your house or garage suddenly floods during a rainstorm!

We recommend you get a qualified building inspector to do a thorough pre-purchase inspection of the property before you commit to purchasing it. Think of it as a form of insurance; whilst it costs money you may be reluctant to spend, it will cost you far more if you have to replace the pipes, a retaining wall or the roof.

And having just mentioned plumbing, you may also want to check whether or not your home has any flexible/braided hoses in the kitchen or bathroom. Research from Australia has shown that these hoses only last for about 10 years and they are likely to cause significant water damage if they fail.

Hidden titles

If you or a member of your family have been granted a protection order under the Domestic Violence Act 1995 you can apply to the Registrar-General of Land under s108 of the Act to hide the information held about you on the Land Register which may otherwise disclose your whereabouts.

In practice this means that no-one can then search for your title information without your consent. The hidden title direction lasts for five years unless the protection order is discharged earlier; and it can be revoked at any time if your circumstances change.

Co-owners of the property must consent to your application as their details will also be concealed.
It’s important to note that the hidden title direction does not extend to other public registers such as your local rating authority; you would need to make separate applications for those.
The hidden title procedure is not used very often but it is available if you have personal safety concerns.

Cross lease issues: ‘warts and all’ clauses

The basic outline (or ‘footprint’) of a flat on a cross lease title is shown on a flat plan deposited with Land Information New Zealand and attached to your title.
If you make additions that alter the footprint of your flat, the only way to correct the title is to deposit a new flat plan, and this can easily cost thousands of dollars.

If you’re selling your cross lease property, talk with us first to check that the flat plan is correct. If there have been footprint changes that are not recorded on the title, a purchaser can requisition the title. This might force you to amend the flat plan, or to drop the asking price or you could simply lose the sale.

However, if you’re prepared in advance, you can make sure your real estate agent includes a ‘warts and all’ clause in your agreement alerting purchasers to the footprint changes but requiring them to accept the title ‘as is.’ While this may put off some purchasers or cause them to offer less, its purpose is to prevent the purchaser from requiring you to alter the flat plan at your expense.

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