The laws around overseas buyers purchasing properties in New Zealand have changed, in the form of new legislation called the “Overseas Investment Amendment Act”.  This law came into force 22 October 2018 and applies to properties that are categorised as ‘residential’ or ‘lifestyle’ on the District Valuation Roll.  You can check the category of a property on qv.co.nz or ask your local Council. 

The new law puts in place restrictions on who can purchase such properties. 

Straightforward Eligibility Criteria

You are eligible to purchase residential property in New Zealand if you are:

  • A New Zealand, Australian or Singaporean citizen;
  • A holder of a  “permanent resident” visa; or
  • A holder of a New Zealand “resident class” visa (noting that this is different from holding a “permanent resident” visa), AND are “ordinarily resident”* in New Zealand

* “Ordinarily resident” in New Zealand means that you:

  • Have been residing in New Zealand for at least the immediate preceding 12 months;
  • Have been present in New Zealand for at least 183 days of the preceding 12 months; and
  • Are a tax resident in New Zealand.

It is important to note that any Agreements for Sale and Purchase dated on or after 22 October 2018 will require you to sign a declaration confirming that you fall within the criteria above, and your legal advisor is likely to require evidence of such citizenship and residency before settlement can occur.

Spouse or Partner Exemption

If you are a couple, and your partner meets the straightforward eligibility criteria above, you do not need to obtain consent if you are buying the property together, as relationship property.

Consent Process

If you hold a temporary visa, such as a visitor, student, working holiday or work visa (but not a permanent resident or resident visa), there is the possibility of obtaining consent to purchase residential property, provided you meet relevant criteria. 

The consent application process can take as little as ten working days for a simple application and application fees start at $2,040. 

An application requires a statutory declaration that you intend to reside in New Zealand until you become a permanent resident or citizen and that you intend to occupy the residential property as your “main home”. 

If consent is granted, this will be conditional on you continuing to live in New Zealand.  If you stop living in New Zealand, the Overseas Investment Office can apply to the Courts to have the property sold at that time.

Pre-Approval

It is possible to obtain a “pre-approval” under this consent process.  This will allow you to safely purchase a property without the requirement of making any offer conditional upon such consent being obtained. 

If you do not have a formal “pre-approval” you will need to make any offer conditional upon OIA consent being obtained, with a realistic timeframe of obtaining such approval.

Buying in the Name of a Trust or Company

This is less straightforward and care should be taken when purchasing in the name of a trust or company.  Any trust or company will generally be considered an ‘overseas person’ if it is 25 percent or more overseas owned, or controlled by an overseas person.

It is likely that any consent application in the name of a trust or company will incur additional costs and will take longer than the standard consent timeframe. 

Inheriting property

If you inherit a home, you may be able to keep it and live in it without applying for consent. However, the rules are complex and depend on when the property was originally purchased and whether OIO consent was required for that purchase.  You should take legal advice as part of your own estate planning, or if you are inheriting a property.

Penalties

If you require consent, but sign an unconditional agreement without it, you may face significant penalties.  If you discover that you have broken the rules, you must advise the Overseas Investment Office straight away.  You may be able to obtain a retrospective consent, however you could face a penalty of up to $10,000. 

If you make a false statement (whether or not you meet the eligibility criteria), you could be fined up to $300,000.

It is important to get this right, so make sure you discuss any concerns you have with your agent, or your legal advisor prior to signing an Agreement.


If you are a New Zealand Super Gold Card Holder (Australian Senior Cards do not qualify) we will give you a 75% discount off our initial 1 hour consultation fee. We will also give you a 17.5% discount off the first matter we handle for you and then 12.5 % off any subsequent matters for you.  These discounts relate to your personal matters only (i.e. not business or organisational matters).