There are a number of ways to subdivide land, including the creation of freehold (fee simple) titles, crosslease and unit titles, as well as boundary adjustments. A subdivision consent is needed for all types of subdivision.

The most common types of subdivision are:

  • Subdivision to create a freehold (fee simple) title
  • Subdivision to create unit titles for multi-unit developments
  • Subdivision to create crosslease titles for two or more houses on a freehold title
  • Boundary adjustments between existing freehold titles
  • Updating the flats plan for a crosslease when the building outline has changed
  • Change of tenure (e.g. conversion of a crosslease title to a freehold title).

Freehold title subdivision

This is sometimes referred to as subdivision into fee simple titles and is by far the most common type of subdivision.

It is the simplest and least restrictive form of land ownership.

Unit title subdivision

This is where the buildings or parts of a building and/or parts of the site have individual unit titles while the remainder of the site (for example, the access) is owned in common by all the unit owners. 

A unit title subdivision is often used to create separate ownership within medium density housing developments, industrial developments and high-rise buildings.

It is a requirement of the Unit Titles Act 2010 that a Body Corporate comprising all the unit owners be created to manage the common land, insure the building and carry out other duties in accordance with the Body Corporate rules. 

Crosslease title subdivision

This is sometimes referred to as a composite title because the title comprises a freehold element and a leasehold element.

The buildings shown on a crosslease title are often referred to as flats; this arises because the plan of subdivision is called a flat plan.

The owner of a crosslease title does not exclusively own the land associated with individual building or the buildings themselves. The land and buildings are owned in undivided shares by all the owners of buildings on the underlying freehold title.

In the case where two buildings are erected on a single freehold title, it would be quite common for the freehold to be owned in undivided half shares despite one building having more land with it than the other building.

The exclusive use of the land around each building is usually covered by a land covenant and is defined on the flat plan. Where there is a common driveway serving both buildings the driveway is often called common land.

The building(s) on a crosslease title are leased from all the owners of the freehold title upon which the buildings are erected. The leases normally run for 999 years. Therefore, it is important that the buildings are correctly shown on the title since any part of a building not shown on the title is not leased and remains in common ownership.

Updating the building outline on a crosslease title

Where additions are made to the footprint of the existing building(s) shown on a crosslease title or new buildings are added, for example, a house extension or new garage, the crosslease title will generally need to be updated to show the changed building footprint.

This is commonly known as the updating of the flats plan. Any updating of a flat plan is classified as a subdivision and requires subdivision consent.

It is important to note that the building consent authorising the construction of the additions or new building does not automatically update the crosslease title, so a separate subdivision consent needs to be applied for.

Boundary adjustments between existing titles

The adjustment to the common boundary between existing freehold titles is commonly known as a boundary adjustment.

Although no additional allotments will be created by the boundary adjustment it is still classified as a subdivision and requires subdivision consent from the Council.

Change of tenure

In some cases, it is possible to convert from one type of tenure to another, for example, conversion of a cross lease into freehold titles. This is also classified as a subdivision so a subdivision consent is required.

For a cross lease conversion, the first important step is to ensure that all owners are willing to participate in the change. A cross lease title cannot be changed unless every owner is in agreement.

The next step is to engage a registered surveyor to prepare and submit a subdivision consent application to the Council on your behalf. Common property will be replaced by a rights of way if required, and service easements will be created to cover existing common services.

Please note that each property will require a separate water supply and meter to be installed.  Cross-connections for water are not permitted unless the pipes are within the shared right-of-way, in which case an easement will be required.

New water connections require an application to the Council’s Three Waters & Waste Unit for approval and will be addressed as part of the subdivision consent conditions. More information about water connections(external link).

If there are any vacant sites involved, a geotechnical report and a Statement of Professional Opinion signed by the geotechnical engineer will need to be included in your application.

When the subdivision consent has been granted, your surveyor will define the allotments and prepare the title plan for Council approval (section 223 RMA).

Then when all the conditions of consent have been completed and your surveyor has obtained a section 224 (completion) certificate, your surveyor and solicitor will register the documents with Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and arrange for the new titles to be issued.

Rights of way

The approval of Council is required before a new right of way can be created.

This approval is under section 348 of the Local Government Act 1974.

The approval will usually be subject to conditions to ensure that the right of way meets the rules in the District Plan and the Council's Infrastructure Design Standard.