Purchasing from a developer who isn’t a builder – what are the pitfalls?

One of the increasingly popular options for purchasing a new house is to buy from a property developer who may not have actually built the house. Contract builders are brought in to construct new homes in subdivisions; the developer then sells on. This can result in a nice new house at a reasonable price.

However, there are risks associated with this type of purchase about which many people are not aware. Some of these risks can be mitigated with sensible contractual protection built in, others are simply risks that you can’t reduce.

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Pre-purchase inspections – what you can object to and what you can’t

The final step before you settle your property purchase is to undertake a ‘pre-purchase inspection’. This gives you the right (under the contract you signed) to inspect the property one last time and raise any last-minute issues about the property with the real estate agent and with us before settlement.

Having a pre-purchase inspection is not, however, the right time to try to negotiate a price reduction, or to attempt to raise new issues about the property.

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Keeping New Zealand safe from money launderers

As you will no doubt be aware, from 1 July 2018 all law firms will be subject to the requirements of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML for short). At first glance you may wonder why we must adhere to these very strict requirements and why you will be asked for additional information.

New Zealand is currently regarded as one of the safest and least corrupt countries in the world; it’s important that we retain this position. As an export nation we rely on other countries being confident that they can send money to New Zealand and also to receive money knowing that it is not being tainted by the proceeds of crime.

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Bright-line test period extended

Property investors will be familiar with the bright-line test where there are potential tax issues if a residential rental property is owned for less than two years before it is sold. In addition to rental properties, the sale of a holiday home can be subject to a tax liability, as it is not a primary residence which is exempt.

In the current buoyant property market, many property investors have been considering selling other properties that form part of their rental portfolios.

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Is your rental safe and healthy?

Penalties for landlords dragging the chain

New laws came into effect on 1 July 2016 that require landlords to make their properties safe and healthy for tenants. These new laws provide some lead time for properties to be brought up to standard; they will apply to all rented properties from 1 July 2019. Will your rental property meet the new standard?

A recent Tenancy Tribunal decision shows that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is not shy of showing its teeth to ensure that tenants have safe and healthy homes by complying with the health and safety amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986. The Residential Tenancies (Smoke Alarms and Insulation) Regulations 2016 outline requirements for rental properties, including underfloor and ceiling insulation, and requiring smoke alarms within three metres of each bedroom.

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Postscript

Food Act 2014 – rolling deadlines to register your food business

The legislation has introduced a sliding scale where businesses that are at a higher risk, from a food safety viewpoint, are required to operate under stricter requirements than lower risk outlets. The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) points out that a corner dairy operator who reheats meat pies is treated differently from a meat pie manufacturer.

New food businesses must register when they start to trade. Existing businesses are required to register with a set of rolling deadlines.

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Regulating stock movements during Mycoplasma bovis outbreak

Mycoplasma bovis (M.bovis) is a bacterial disease commonly found in cows all over the world. First detected in New Zealand in July 2017, it has affected a small number of farms in the South Island and Hawke’s Bay. The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) is working hard with farmers to control the disease and, if possible, eradicate it from New Zealand.

M.bovis causes a range of diseases in cows including mastitis that doesn’t respond to treatment, arthritis, pneumonia and late-term miscarriage. Although it affects cows, it poses no risk to food safety or human health. M.bovis is mainly spread through close and prolonged contact between infected animals, through the movement of stock, contaminated equipment and feeding untreated milk to calves. It’s not windborne, it doesn’t spread through streams or rivers and, thankfully, it is a relatively slow-moving disease.

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Preventing money-laundering in New Zealand: a law firm’s role

New changes regarding law firms are coming into force and they may affect your next visit to us. The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (known as AML/CFT) applies to New Zealand law firms from 1 July of this year.

The legislation aims to ensure New Zealand is a safe place to conduct business. The government wants this country to remain at the top of the list of low risk countries with a reputation for low corruption and strong protocols to prevent money laundering activity.

What is money laundering?

Money laundering is the acquisition, possession, transfer, concealment or the conversion of property knowing it is derived from a criminal offence. There are three stages of money laundering:

  1. Placement
  2. Layering, and
  3. Integration.

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Economic disparity at the end of a relationship

How might this impact you?

As much as we like to think we are living in the modern day, there are still a large number of relationships that follow the more ‘traditional’ practice of having one party act as the ‘homemaker’, while the other acts as the ‘breadwinner’. If the relationship breaks up, economic disparity is likely to be an issue.

With the divorce rate in New Zealand sitting at around 50%, chances are you have friends and family members who have structured their relationship in this more traditional sense and have now separated. The result is often that the ‘homemaker’ is left in a worse position financially because they have been out of the workforce for a long time and will struggle to get back into their career. The breadwinner, meanwhile, who could focus on their career during the relationship, is now earning at their full potential. This is economic disparity – one party is advantaged over the other.

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What is a ‘social enterprise’ and why does it matter?

A trending term in the business world over the last year is ‘social enterprise’. This represents a new interpretation on an old way of thinking – that business should be about more than profit. In September 2017, more than 1,600 delegates attended the Social Enterprise World Forum in Christchurch. What were they discussing and what are some ways this movement is seeking to have an impact today?

What is a social enterprise?

To start with we need to get the definition right. In New Zealand the Ākina Foundation works in the social enterprise sector and its definition is a good one: Social enterprises are purpose-driven organisations that trade to deliver social and environmental impact.

The key word there is purpose. Traditional business has had more of a focus on profit than purpose. In fact, that focus on profit is baked into our business model. For example, how important the shareholders of a company are and the focus on the directors returning profit to them.

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