Family home v homestead: implications for relationship property
When a relationship breaks down, it is always difficult dividing up your joint assets. It is important when deciding the division of relationship property under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (PRA) following a separation, or when forming a contracting out agreement, to accurately classify the home in which you and your partner/spouse live. The overall structure of the property will define whether your home is classified as the ‘family home’ or a ‘homestead.’
Family home: The PRA defines the family home as a property, including all land, buildings and improvements, which a couple generally, or primarily, reside in as their family residence. The property within the whole title must be used for the benefit of the relationship to be classified as the family home. In this case, all land under that title must be shared equally in a separation situation unless you as a couple have a contracting out agreement specifying the division of the property.
Homestead: Where only part of the property within the whole title is used for the benefit of the relationship, the portion attributable to the relationship may be considered the ‘homestead’ instead of the ‘family home.’ In this case, the remainder of the property may not be subject to the PRA principles of equal sharing, particularly if it is owned by a third party such as parents of one of the parties.
A family home will be considered a homestead if a portion of the property within the title is used by a couple as their general, or primary, family residence but the remainder of the title is used for the overall economic gain of another entity. This is more common in the rural context where couples reside on the farm but only a portion of the overall title contains the family home and the remainder is used for the economic gain of their rural business.
In this case, only the portion of the title considered to be the homestead would be considered in the division of relationship property, with the remaining property possibly not subject to the equal sharing principles of the PRA.
Road user charges and when to pay them?
The government imposes taxes on fuel through a road user charge (RUC) to collect funds for the maintenance and development of our roads. For most people, this tax is included in the petrol price.
Some vehicle owners, however, must pay the RUC and their fuel separately. If you own a vehicle weighing more than 3.5 tonnes, or a vehicle weighing less than 3.5 tonnes that runs on untaxed diesel, you must pay the RUC.
Your RUC licence is paid in advance to allow you to travel the distance purchased – usually in blocks of 1,000 kilometres.
You must always display the appropriate RUC licence on the inside of the passenger’s side of the front windscreen of your vehicle. Once your vehicle has travelled the distance covered by the RUC licence, you must renew your licence.
Owners must keep records of their vehicle use and have a hub odometer installed to accurately measure the distance it travels. Most vehicles that are subject to RUCs are sold with a hub odometer pre-installed.
Electric cars (EVs) do not currently incur RUCs. The new government, however, has indicated that EVs will pay the RUC from 1 April 2024 onwards.
Casual employees v seasonal workers
Seasonal workers are employed in certain sectors (particularly agricultural and horticultural areas) with the exclusive purpose of doing seasonal work, usually to assist with an increase in seasonal production requirements. Although seasonal work is temporary by nature, employers must be aware of the minimum entitlements for seasonal workers. There is a distinction between ‘casual’ workers and ‘seasonal workers’ in general. The Employment Relations Act 2000 requires specific clauses in employment agreements for these workers.
Casual employment: a casual worker is employed to work on shifts that are offered and accepted. There is no requirement for them to accept work you offer. In between periods of work, this worker is not considered to be employed by you.
Seasonal work: generally speaking, a seasonal worker is employed to work the entire season. These people are permanent employees on a fixed-term basis who are likely to be employed under a fixed-term agreement. It is important that your seasonal worker’s employment agreement is drafted according to the specifics of the job.
If you need help with employing this summer’s casual and seasonal workers, please don’t hesitate to contact us. It’s vital to get these employment agreements correct – both for you and your employees.
 Section 66, Employment Relations Act 2000.
DISCLAIMER: All the information published in Rural eSpeaking is true and accurate to the best of the authors’ knowledge. It should not be a substitute for legal advice. No liability is assumed by the authors or publisher for losses suffered by any person or organisation relying directly or indirectly on this newsletter. Views expressed are those of individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the view of Edmonds Judd. Articles appearing in Rural eSpeaking may be reproduced with prior approval from the editor and credit given to the source.
Copyright, NZ LAW Limited, 2022. Editor: Adrienne Olsen. E-mail: [email protected]. Ph: 029 286 3650