A posh apartment block’s ban on renters using an exclusive rooftop lounge goes against its own body corporate rules and could be unlawful, a legal property expert says.
Grace Victoria Quarter, on central Auckland’s Sale St, boasts a residents’ rooftop function room with 360 degree views of the harbour.
But unit owners at the apartment block are in a tussle over allowing access to renters in a spat over who pays cleaning fees.
Joanna Pidgeon, a partner at Pidgeon Law in Auckland, said the building’s body corp needed to tread very carefully if it considered going down that path.
In the body corp operational rules, an owner is interpreted as “the registered owner of a unit, and where relevant, includes occupiers and persons under the control of a registered owner or occupier”.
“So the rule does not prohibit the use of this area by renters,” Pidgeon said.
The 10-storey apartment block is managed by a body corp – a group of owners who form a committee, overseeing the day-to-day running of the building.
The body corp has an obligation to implement its own rules or it can be found to be ultra vires – acting beyond its legal power – under the Unit Titles Act, Pidgeon said.
She said she was not aware of any cases where access to common areas was restricted from any resident.
A detailed set of rules on the usage of the rooftop lounge is included in the body corp rules to ensure fair use and enjoyment by “owners”.
Pidgeon said while more detailed rules had not been set yet, any additional rules should be registered by the body corp.
“And [they] will need to be careful that they do not fundamentally infringe rights relating to common property.”
She said current registered body corporate operational rules did not allow discrimination for any occupants of a building.
“It is unusual for body corporates to treat owners and renters different,” she added.
A unit owner who spoke out about the exclusive rule labelled it discriminatory, silly and unnecessary.
A recent meeting to discuss whether renters should be allowed into the rooftop lounge was met with resistance from unit owners, she said.
“My main takeaway from the meeting was that most owners there thought renters shouldn’t be given the same rights as owners … it sounded like a community I don’t want to be part of, even as an owner.”
Stuff has made attempts to contact the building’s body corp for comment.