On 20 October 2022, the Epidemic Preparedness Notice  (Notice) expired without renewal. Now that the Notice is no longer in force, the temporary legislative amendments in the property and estates space that were enacted due to COVID-19 are being repealed – some immediately, some in three months’ time, and others in six months’ time.
The temporary legislative amendments assisted with business and personal matters during the COVID-19 Alert Levels and Protection Framework by providing flexibility. For example, they allowed certain documents (including wills and enduring powers of attorney) to be signed and witnessed remotely and they extended certain timeframes (for example to defaulting borrowers and tenants) during the period of uncertainty and restrictions.
Below is a summary of the temporary legislation that was, or will be, automatically repealed by the expiry of the Epidemic Preparedness Notice – on 20 October 2022 or in three or six months’ time, as applicable. Details of the relevant laws are listed in a table below. If you would like more information, please get in touch with one of our experts.
Wills and enduring powers of attorney can no longer be signed and witnessed remotely
On 20 October 2022 the legislative amendments allowing for wills and enduring powers of attorney to be signed and witnessed remotely (by audio-visual link) ceased to have effect. There are no current proposals to keep these provisions through permanent legislative amendments. The rules that previously existed requiring signing and witnessing to be in person resume.
Oaths, affirmations and declarations can no longer be signed and witnessed remotely
Similarly, on 20 October 2022 the legislative amendments allowing for oaths, affirmations and declarations to be administered or taken remotely (by audio or audio-visual link) ceased to have effect. There are no current proposals to keep these provisions through permanent legislative amendments. The rules that previously existed requiring oaths, affirmations and declarations to be administered or taken in the presence of the person swearing the oath or making the affirmation or declaration resume.
The extended periods for mortgagees and tenants to remedy breaches will cease on 20 April 2023
The amendments to the Property Law Act 2007 that extended timeframes for mortgagors to remedy a default under their mortgage, and for tenants to remedy a breach of lease for non-payment of rent will cease to have effect six months after expiry of the Epidemic Preparedness Notice. Both extensions to periods for remedy default/breach will expire on 20 April 2023 and the timeframes that previously applied will resume.
Rent abatement terms implied into commercial leases are repealed
Last year, the Property Law Act 2007 was amended to provide for an implied covenant of an abatement of a fair proportion of rent if the tenant was unable to gain access to their leased premises to conduct fully their operations because of reasons of health or safety related to the pandemic. This implied covenant was repealed on the expiry of the Epidemic Preparedness Notice, on 20 October 2022.
This means that a tenant needs to include an express term in its lease to get the benefit of rent abatement in emergency situations where it does not have access to its premises. Clause 27.5 of the Auckland District Law Society lease is an example of such a clause.
Rules for remote attendance and voting at body corporate meetings are to be repealed, but will be made permanent in new legislation
Amendments to the Unit Titles Act 2010 allow for members of body corporates to attend general meetings by audio or audio-visual link despite limitations in the body corporate operational rules. This temporary legislative amendment is repealed 12 weeks after expiry of the Epidemic Preparedness Notice, which will be 12 January 2023.
New legislation  will make a permanent legislative change to allow the continuation of attendance and voting at body corporate meetings by remote methods (audio, audio-visual link or similar). This new legislation has been given Royal Assent but is not yet in force. We anticipate that it will be brought into force on or around the time the temporary rules are repealed in order to avoid a ‘gap’ that might catch body corporates out.
Temporary laws and repeal dates
Principal Act or Regulation that was amended
Summary of temporary legislative amendment
Date of repeal
|Epidemic Preparedness (Wills Act 2007—Signing and Witnessing of Wills) Immediate Modification Order 2020||Wills Act 2007||Allowed wills to be signed and witnessed using audio-visual links.||20 October 2022|
|Epidemic Preparedness (Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988—Enduring Powers of Attorney) Immediate Modification Order 2020||Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988 and Protection of Personal and Property Rights (Enduring Powers of Attorney Forms and Prescribed Information) Regulations 2008
||The modifications overrode s 94A of the Act and prescribed forms to enable an enduring power of attorney (an EPA) to be created when the signatories (the donor, the attorney and witnesses) were in different places, by allowing signing and witnessing by audio-visual links.||20 October 2022|
|Epidemic Preparedness (Oaths and Declarations Act 1957) Immediate Modification Order 2020||Oaths and Declarations Act 1957||Allowed an oath, an affirmation, or a declaration to be administered or taken using an audio-visual or audio link instead of in the presence of the person swearing the oath or making the affirmation or declaration.||20 October 2022|
|COVID-19 Response (Further Management Measures) Legislation Act 2020||Property Law Act 2007||
New sections 120A-E and 129A-E allow for the extension of the remedial period where the mortgagor has been in default during the COVID-19 period.
New sections 245A-E allow for the extension of the remedial period where there has been a breach of covenant to pay rent under the lease because the rent has been in arrears during the COVID-19 period.
The ‘COVID-19 period’ referred to above expires 6 months after the Epidemic Preparedness Notice expires.
|20 April 2023|
|COVID-19 Response (Management Measures) Legislation Act 2021||Property Law Act 2007||New sections 245F-245I applied to leases and provided for an implied covenant for abatement of a fair proportion of rent if the tenant is unable to gain access to all or any part of the leased premises to conduct fully their operations in all or any part of the leased premises, because of reasons of health or safety related to the pandemic.||20 October 2022|
|COVID-19 Response (Further Management Measures) Legislation Act 2020||Unit Titles Act 2010
||Allows members of body corporates to attend general meetings by audio or audio-visual link despite limitations contained in the operational rules.||12 January 2023|
 Epidemic Preparedness (COVID-19) Notice 2020
 Unit Titles (Strengthening Body Corporate Governance and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2022
This article was co-authored by Grace Sharp, a Solicitor in our Property team.
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