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By Steve

I'm Solicitor at CS Law

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Purchasing Property on a New Zealand Residence Visa

In this month's blog, one of our solicitor's, Steve Leadbetter, explains the requirements you must meet before buying residential property as a New Zealand Resident.

If you have recently received a resident visa to live in New Zealand, but are not yet a New Zealand citizen, it is important to understand the rules around purchasing property in New Zealand.  With the exception of citizens or permanent residents of Australia or Singapore, anyone who is not a New Zealand citizen and is intending to buy residential property must either be “ordinarily resident in New Zealand”, or be purchasing property with a spouse or partner who is ordinarily resident in New Zealand, or first obtain consent from the Overseas Investment Office.

So what does it mean to be an ordinary resident in New Zealand? The Overseas Investment Act sets out four requirements that each must be met if you are to be considered ordinarily resident.  You must a) hold a residence class visa, b) have been residing in New Zealand for at least the past year, c) be a New Zealand tax resident, and d) have been in New Zealand for 183 days or more in the immediately preceding 12 months.

The requirement to have been residing in New Zealand for the past year mentioned above does not require you to have been holding a residence visa for that whole time.  If you have been living in New Zealand on a student or work visa, and only recently have obtained a residence class visa, you may still qualify as ordinarily resident.  Therefore you may not need to obtain consent from the Overseas Investment Office to purchase property in New Zealand.  Note that time spent on a visitor visa does not count as residing in New Zealand.

If you do not yet meet all of the requirements to be ordinarily resident, but you do hold a residence class visa, you may still be able to purchase one property if it is for a place to live in.  But you will need approval from the Overseas Investment Office first.  The Overseas Investment Office will only provide consent if you meet the “commitment to reside in New Zealand” test.  You will need to hold a residence class visa and complete a statutory declaration that you will be present in New Zealand for at least 183 days in the following 12-month period and become tax resident in New Zealand.  The Overseas Investment Office monitors compliance of these rules and can impose penalties if you do not comply with the declarations.  The process may take up to 10 working days.  However, you can be proactive and obtain consent up to a year in advance to ensure you have it, before you go searching for your first New Zealand home.