When is a garage not a garage?

A journalist contacted REA recently to ask if we have received many complaints and enquiries about unconsented conversions and listings that describe garages as bedrooms or utility rooms.

It turns out that we have received a few calls about this in the last six months, so it’s a good opportunity to review the areas covered by this question.

Garage conversions

Even a relatively simple garage conversion that turns the space into an extra bedroom or living area will need a building consent, and the council will issue a Code Compliance Certificate (CCC) when the work is finished to the required standard. If the conversion involves the addition of a kitchen, bathroom or laundry, the work may need resource consent too.

Unconsented conversions

If garages are converted into living spaces without the appropriate consents and certifications, future owners of the property may have problems insuring the property – even if a pre-sale building inspection identifies no issues.

It may, therefore, be difficult to sell the property – at best, there could be a delay before a sale and purchase agreement becomes unconditional.

We recommend that you advise your clients to contact the council and apply to have any unconsented conversions certified before they list a property. This will save time and stress during the sale process.

Disclosure

If you suspect that a living space on a property is a garage conversion, check with the vendor that the work has a CCC. If the conversion hasn’t been certified and if the vendor doesn’t want to apply for certification before listing the property, you must disclose the lack of certification to prospective purchasers. You need your client’s permission to make this disclosure. If your client doesn’t want you to disclose this, you have no choice but to walk away from the listing. 

Misleading advertising

If a garage has been converted into a bedroom or other living space and the work has a CCC, that space can be advertised as a bedroom or living space.

When a garage has been converted to a living space but the work was not consented, REA considers that it’s misleading to advertise the space as living space (for example a bedroom), even if you intend to disclose to prospective purchasers that there is no CCC.

A recent decision

A Complaints Assessment Committee recently found that a licensee engaged in unsatisfactory behaviour when he failed to disclose that building work on a property he sold was not consented. You can read more about this decision here.

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