The title is how land information and ownership is recorded. It includes a plan of the land including the lot number and size of the land. It records who owns the property and any interests in the land such as, mortgages and easements.

There are several ways that land can be held. These include fee simple, cross-lease, unit title and leasehold.

A fee simple title is where the property is owned freehold and is the most common form of ownership. There are no restrictions on this type of ownership.

A cross lease title is where there are several people who own a share in a lot of land. Each owner then has a leasehold interest in a specified area of the land and the building that they occupy, often called Flat 1 and Flat 2. The term of the lease is usually for a period of 999 years. There are specific terms in the lease that need to be checked as they may restrict your use of the property eg, not to run a business from home.

This type of ownership is common where a section behind the original house has been developed and there is a shared right of way. Significantly, the outline of the buildings (eg house and garage) are drawn on the title plan and you cannot build outside this area without getting the co-owners consent and getting a new survey plan and title. This can be an expensive exercise.

A unit title, is typically how apartments are owned. The owner owns a defined part of the building (eg. the apartment and parking area) and shares ownership of common areas such as the entrance, stairwell and garden. All owners need to belong to a Body Corporate and pay fees. These fees go towards insurance, rates and ongoing maintenance or repair of the building. There are also strict rules that can include things like not to hang out washing in public view. The rules and potential maintenance costs should be thoroughly checked out before buying these types of properties.

A leasehold title is where a person buys the right to occupy the land or building.  This type of title can be used for either residential or commercial purposes. There will be a lease that sets out the terms of use and each parties’ obligations. There is usually an annual rent to be paid in addition to the purchase price. A lot of Maori land has a leasehold title whereby the lessee has the right to occupy for a period of time.