Understanding the types of property ownership

In search of your first or second home-sweet-home you may come across some unfamiliar terms, a common group is the types of  property ownership. You’ve got all the tools under your belt such as a deposit, a willing lender and a budget but there is something else to think about when it comes to making your decision. The type of land agreement your desired property has will have an impact on what you can do with your property and could affect the relationship you have with your neighbours.


Freehold is the most common property ownership type in New Zealand and the simplest to understand. Once you purchase the property or section, it is yours entirely as well as anything that is built on it. If you want to add any features to your property, you will need council approval but you won’t need to ask your neighbours.


If your land agreement is a leasehold ownership this indicates another party owns the land and you will be required to pay rent to the owner. You will purchase an exclusive right to possession of the land and the buildings on it for a specific amount of time. Alternatively, you can pay “ground rent”and own your own property built on the land.

Unit title

If you’re looking at a unit title, that would mean there are multiple owners in a building/ complex. For example, in an apartment block you would own your apartment and share ownership of common areas such as lifts and driveways. All unit title owners are required to pay a body corporate fee for management of these shared areas, once you become a unit title holder you become a member of the body corporate.

Cross lease

A cross lease usually means a co-ownership of the land and complete ownership of your property on that land. It is common there would be multiple dwellings on a single piece of land. Similar to a unit title, all owners will share common items such as shared driveways, fences and are collectively responsible for the maintenance.

Now that you are aware of the different types of ownership and what they depict, your search will be more educated and selective as you can decide which type of ownership will work best for you. Upon looking at properties that have your desired type of ownership, ask your lawyer to also review the certificate of title as a precaution.

If you are serious about buying, take a look at the current properties up for sale https://harcourtsotago.co.nz/buy/. You will see the type of ownership is listed for every property for your reference.