Convert your cross lease to freehold and maximise the value of your property.

The Property Institute of New Zealand advises that converting a cross lease property into a fee simple ownership structure significantly increases the value and saleability of a property.  The conversion process is relatively simple so why would anyone persevere with a cross lease title?

The Property Institute of New Zealand estimates homeowners of cross-leased properties can suffer value losses from 7% to 18% due to the ownership structure. Now is the time to unlock this value to realise the full value of your property!

Cross Lease Arrangement

In the 20th century, cross leases were implemented to circumvent restrictive subdivision requirements and to save developers costs and time.  The Resource Management Act 1991 and the Auckland Unitary Plan have now effectively made cross lease arrangements redundant, however, the legacy issues associated with existing cross leases continue to frustrate property owners.

Each party to a cross lease arrangement owns undivided shares as tenants in common in the underlying land and each party also ‘leases’ its dwelling on the land from all owners. 

As a result of this ownership structure, any improvements to a property (e.g. an extension to a dwelling or the installation of a pool) will require the consent of all of the parties to the cross lease arrangement.  This can often lead to disputes and additional costs, especially if one party seeks to exploit the control that it has over its neighbour in these circumstances. 

The title to a cross lease property may be defective in the event that the flats plan (i.e. the diagram of all the buildings on the cross lease) does not reflect the size of the dwelling(s) on the property (which can happen if a plan is not updated after a dwelling has been built or extended (or after a garage/ carport has been added to the property)).  

Such an issue can disrupt or frustrate the sale of a property and can also create issues with financing arrangements and insurance cover for the relevant property.   

Some cross leases are not fit for purpose.  For example, a cross lease may grant communal rights over areas of a property in respect of which one owner may reasonably (but mistakenly) assume he/she has exclusive use.  Some cross leases prohibit having pets on the property.

Fee Simple

On the other hand, the owner of a fee simple property (commonly referred to as a freehold property) is the absolute owner of both the dwelling and the land on which the dwelling is located.  Therefore, the owner of a fee simple property can alter or make additions to the relevant property without the neighbour’s consent (subject to any applicable regulations of the local council).

In addition, if a property is converted into a fee simple property, it may then be possible to further develop that property in accordance with the Auckland Unitary Plan (e.g. construct two or more townhouses on the property).

What is the Conversion Process?


All owners of the cross lease title will have to agree to the conversion. All owners will benefit from the conversion so, generally, the owners share the associated costs.

  • Review Records

    A lawyer will review the existing records of title and leases for the relevant properties.

  • Cadastral Survey

    A licensed cadastral surveyor will visit the properties to assess the properties and gather information on access, drainage, position of existing dwellings and any other features that are necessary to effect the change.

  • Engineer Assessment

    An engineer will assess the existing infrastructure to determine whether any additional services and/or a separation of services is required (e.g. sewage, water supply and stormwater drainage).

  • Application for Resource Consent

    A planner will then prepare a resource consent application and assessment of environmental effect which will be submitted to the local Council.

  • Council Confirmation Required

    The Council will confirm the conditions (if any) that will apply to the conversion (e.g. carry out improvements to the drainage).

  • Collection of Legal Documents

    A solicitor will liaise with the surveyor, the property owners and any mortgagees to execute the necessary legal documents.

  • Submit Documents to Land Information New Zealand

    The solicitor and surveyor will submit their documents to Land Information New Zealand in order to obtain the new fee simple titles.

  • Conversion Process Complete

    New fee simple titles are issued.

The conversion constitutes a subdivision and is subject to the requirements of the Resource Management Act.  However, the Environment Court has recently noted that it is unnecessary for authorities to conduct full-scale assessments of resource consent applications for cross lease conversions under the Resource Management Act because “there may be few, if any, material environmental implications”.  Accordingly, Councils have been directed to facilitate a simple and straightforward conversion process.

Typically, the conversion process can be completed within six to nine months.

Chester and Simpson Western have teamed up to offer a seamless, cost-effective, "start to finish" cross lease conversion service.  We can provide all of the skills, expertise and experience required to obtain a fee simple title.

Our surveyors, planners, engineers and property lawyers will co-ordinate and carry out all of the necessary assessments, undertake a survey of the property, prepare the requisite reports, manage the consent process, and obtain new records of title.

Our experts can guide you through the legal requirements and manage everything for you.  In our experience, the vast majority of conversions are completed without significant issues, however, we have the expertise and experience to be able provide effective and pragmatic solutions if issues do arise. 

We would be happy to discuss with you the merits of converting your cross lease property to fee simple.  We also offer a free, no obligations, onsite consultation service.

Once we obtain all of the necessary information from you, we can then provide you with a scope of work and fixed fee.  This will give you certainty with regard to the process and our associated fees. 

Contact Steven Rankin of Chester and/or Barton Hoggard of Simpson Western to discuss how we can assist with converting your cross lease title into a freehold property to increase the value and saleability of your property.

Steven Rankin

Steven Rankin

Director

09 217 4134

021 808 593

steven@chester.co.nz

Northcote Head Office

Level 1, Chester Building

28 The Warehouse Way

Northcote, Auckland 0627

PO Box 34405, Auckland 0746

Tel: +64 9 481 0024

www.chester.co.nz

Barton Hoggard

Special Counsel

09 489 0719

021 883 221

bartonh@simpsonwestern.co.nz

Simpson Western

Level 3, 159 Hurstmere Road

Takapuna, Auckland, 0620

Private Bag 93533, Takapuna

Tel: +64 9 486 3058

www.simpsonwestern.co.nz

If you have any questions with your project then fill out the form below and we contact you. We also offer a free 30 minute initial consultation in our office. If you would like to book an appointment then please mention this in the contact form below.