There has been increased interest recently in the acquisition of New Zealand property by overseas persons, particularly in the residential property market.
However, there are differing rules applying to the acquisition of rural land and what is classified as sensitive land under the Overseas Investment Act 2005. Examples of sensitive land include farmland that exceeds 5 hectares, land that exceeds 0.4 hectares and adjoins certain types of reserve or conservation areas, and land that exceeds 0.2 hectares and adjoins foreshore.
If the land being acquired falls into the category of sensitive land, an application is made to the Overseas Investment Office (OIO), which generally entails a letter of application providing supporting information.
We are able to assist with preparing applications required in these circumstances, and generally the OIO endeavours to make decisions within 30 days from the date of registration. If you are an overseas person as defined by the Act and intend to acquire land considered sensitive, you will need to satisfy the consent criteria.
The consent to acquire sensitive land will only be granted if either the transaction is of benefit to New Zealand (substantial) or the applicant intends to reside in New Zealand indefinitely. The benefit to New Zealand is measured against a large number of economic factors. Intention to reside in New Zealand indefinitely is granted as concessional treatment to potential migrants on the basis that ownership of land will assist new migrants to settle in New Zealand.
Australian citizens and the holders of a current permanent Australian permanent residence visa will normally be granted a residence visa on arrival in New Zealand and will be eligible for consent on this concessional basis. To obtain OIO consent, a person must be residing in New Zealand with the intention of residing here indefinitely, and have done so for the immediately preceding 12 months.
The Overseas Investment Act provides that absence in New Zealand for no more than 183 days in the aggregate of the last 12 months does not prevent a person from satisfying this requirement. This may be important for intending migrants who have other business interests in other countries, but nevertheless, intend to permanently reside in New Zealand.
Our property team can assist with advice in respect of applications to the Overseas Investment Office in respect of sensitive land, and inquiries from intending migrants as to their requirements to meet the regulations for new migrants for farm land or lifestyle properties.