Changes affecting every buyer of residential land

Overseas Investment Amendment Act 2018 now in force

We covered the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill in Property Speaking’s Spring 2018 edition. The Bill has become law and is now the Overseas Investment Amendment Act 2018 (the OIA Act). It has been in force since 22 October.

The implication for you is that when you next buy residential property, there will be another layer of compliance to be completed before your property purchase goes through.

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Validating imperfect wills

What can be done?

For wills to be valid they must comply with a number of legal formalities; they must be in writing and there must be two witnesses who must attest to the will-maker signing the will in their presence.

However, some people create their own wills that do not comply with these formalities and these wills could be invalid. Sometimes people will express what they want to happen to their property after their death in an electronic document, such as a text message.

Since 2007 the High Court has had power to validate these documents so that they have the effect of being a valid will, even though they do not comply with the legal requirements of the Wills Act 2007.

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How do I bring my trust to an end?

The process

It has been estimated that there are between 300,000-500,000 trusts in this country. Trusts have been established for many different reasons, including estate planning, creditor protection, to ensure access to rest home subsidies, tax benefits or for protection from relationship property claims.

When the reason for a having a trust is no longer valid (there’s more on this on our article Do I still need a trust? here), it is important to bring it to an end in the most appropriate way bearing in mind the powers in the trust deed and the needs of all the beneficiaries.

This article explores the two most common ways that trusts can be brought to an end – bringing forward the date of distribution (the trust’s expiry date) and distributing all the trust assets to beneficiaries.

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Do I still need a trust?

It’s good practice to review its purpose

If you have a family trust set up a number of years ago, it’s good practice to review it to ensure it is still ‘fit for purpose’. Leading on from that is the question that is often asked of us, “Should I bring my trust to an end?”

Trusts are still very useful arrangements, and there is usually a good reason why you established a trust in the first place. If that reason no longer exists, however, then it may be sensible to think about alternative arrangements.

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Business Briefs

Workplace culture crackdown

The recent #metoo movement has drawn worldwide attention to workplace harassment. The New Zealand government has responded by collecting data about workplace harassment through confidential complaint lines and signalling clear expectations of New Zealand workplace culture.

Harassment may never be totally stamped out. However, your business can take steps to minimise harm and create a safer environment for your staff. These include:

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Receivership of construction companies

Protecting your property and getting paid

In light of Ebert Construction’s recent receivership, not taking protective measures opens subcontractors up to recovery and enforcement issues. If you are a subcontractor, you should think about how to prevent your tools and equipment (including cranes and scaffolding) from being seized and sold by a receiver, and to ensure you have the best chance of getting paid.

Protecting your tools and equipment

The first step to take is very practical. If you can, always take your tools and equipment home with you each night. When a construction company goes into receivership, the receivers lock the gates to the relevant construction sites which prevents you from collecting your tools and equipment.

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Second thoughts

What happens when your employee wants to retract their resignation?

We all know that people can sometimes say things in the heat of the moment which, on reflection, they didn’t really mean. What happens when your employee quits suddenly, perhaps by storming out of your workplace as a result of a disagreement? As an employer, can you take this as a resignation? What happens if your employee has a change of heart and wants to return to work?

Most employment agreements will provide a notice period that any employee must give when they want to end their employment. This allows you some time to find a replacement and make arrangements for the handover of work.

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Over the fence

The Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations 2018

The Animal Welfare Act 1999 provides for offences and penalties for serious animal abuse or neglect.

In May 2015 the government amended the Animal Welfare Act enabling regulations to be made on matters such as animal care and procedures performed on animals.

The Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations 2018 are the latest set of regulations to be issued; they were issued in March 2018. Most of these regulations will come into force in October this year. Examples include the prohibition of the use of traction in calving cows and the requirement to ensure that dogs transported on an open deck or trailer of a moving motor vehicle are secured to prevent the dog falling off or hanging off.

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Private land with public access

How is access granted?

Our ability to access the ‘great outdoors’ in New Zealand is seen as something of a citizen’s right. At times, however, It does conflict with the rights of private landowners when, in order to access the great outdoors, there is a need to cross their private land first.

The question of public access over private land has recently been becoming more of an issue. In particular, groups who are advocating for that access see the acquisition of private land by overseas people as an opportunity to gain more formal access over private land. Historically, New Zealanders have enjoyed a reasonably significant amount of access over private land – often based around relatively informal arrangements.

Public access over private land is a complex topic. This article gives you some background to the law relating to the rights of private landowners.

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Biosecurity in New Zealand

Who is liable for an outbreak of plant disease?

Biosecurity issues never seem to be far from the news these days. The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) is responsible for biosecurity in New Zealand and gets its powers in relation to biosecurity under the Biosecurity Act 1993. The purpose of the biosecurity system that the Act puts in place is to prevent or manage risks from harmful organisms such as pests and diseases. It does this by attempting to stop pests and diseases before they arrive in the country and, if they do, by trying to either eradicate or manage them.

Psa, varroa mite, myrtle rust and Mycoplasma bovis have all recently caused major issues. Now MPI is seeking the destruction of tens of thousands of plant cuttings and trees that were imported from an American nursery in the state of Washington after an audit uncovered irregularities in the nursery’s processes.

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