Differences between a Residents’ Association or Residents’ Society and a Body Corporate

Body Corporate General Manager Steven Garland discusses the key differences with Residents Association/Societies compared to a Body Corporate property structure.

It’s hard not to notice the amount of development occurring around Auckland suburban streets. I live out West and, in our street alone which consists of 157 addresses, there are at least half a dozen sites being developed. The smallest site has five two story townhouses squeezed onto a quarter acre site (1012m2) that previously had a standalone dwelling with garden areas. The largest development has 14 townhouses being built on a 1275m2 site but has three levels rather than two. 

We are seeing more and more of these kinds of multi-unit developments being built as Residents’ Associations (RA) or Residents’ Societies (RS) rather than Bodies Corporate (BC) because there are no common areas within the buildings themselves.

Sizings for these types of developments vary. We currently manage one that has only three units and our largest has over 500. The average size is typically around 25 units.

There are some major differences between a RA or RS and a Body Corporate.

Common Areas

RA or RS developments are likely to have only exterior areas common to all owners like the driveway, underground infrastructure, maybe a shared letter box, gardens and exterior fences. Body Corporates have shared/common property within the building such as a lift, foyer, hallways etc.

There can however can be a Body Corporate building located within the wider governance of a RS/RA.

Legal Obligations

Unlike a Body Corporate, a RA or RS is not legally obligated to have insurance or a Long Term Maintenance Plan. As with a cross lease property however it makes sense for a RA or RS to hold a master policy on behalf of all owners rather than assuming all owners will get the appropriate cover individually, and this master policy can also cover the common areas.


You legally own the land under your townhouse in a RA or RS. This differs from a Body Corporate where the Body Corporate owns the land on behalf of all the owners.


The “rules” for managing a RA or RS are set out in their Constitution and Incorporated under the Incorporated Societies Act of 1908. Like the Operational Rules of a Body Corporate under the Unit Titles Act, the Constitution is binding on all owners within the RA or RS. When an owner sells they must provide a Certificate of Indebtedness to the purchaser who in turn must complete a Deed of Covenant back to the RA or RS. An owner selling in a Body Corporate must produce a Disclosure Statement, and the new purchaser must complete a Section 85, which is a legal contact details registration form in accordance with the Unit Titles Act 2010.


Housing intensification however, like a multi-unit development on one site, doesn’t always come with an associated infrastructure upgrade. With my neighbouring developments there aren’t any new roads or parks being built to service the resultant influx of people to the community. Parking problems will be inevitable as each townhouse generally has three or four bedrooms but just one car park space. Some will have, at best, a one car garage which may or may not be utilised as a space for a car in the future. The solution for people is usually street parking because the driveway needs to be kept clear at all times and that’s problem number one. A RA or RS has no say on what happens on the street – that’s for the Council.

On the positive side, owners/renters in a multi-unit development are likely to all get to know one another because of the close proximity of their neighbours. There is generally only one way in and one way out in newer developments built on quarter acre sections. This structure should create an open and productive forum for owners to work closely with their RA or RS managers (such as apm) and make the administration of the common areas straight forward.

RA or RS developments are the future of Auckland after the passing of the Housing Enabling Bill in December last year. Check out your street and get used to the idea that more and more of these types of developments will be springing up this decade.

Kind regards

Steven Garland

[email protected]

General Manager – Body Corporate

Feel free to contact our Body Corporate Management team via the contact form below.