Thursday, September 19, 2019
The government needs to pull up socks and act urgently to fix the confusion on the eligibility of migrant residents to buy property in New Zealand.
The Indian Weekender broke a story on Wednesday, September 18, of a Kiwi-Indian couple living in New Zealand on resident visas that were denied purchase of a property in South Auckland purely on the grounds that they were on “Residents” and not a “Citizen or Permanent Resident”.
This is in complete defiance of current New Zealand law that categorically allows “Residents” to buy property in New Zealand, provided they meet some other conditions.
This issue is of paramount importance for the entire migrant community and needs immediate action from the government to fix the confusion, as technically thousands of eligible taxpaying residents might be illegally denied of the right to purchase property in New Zealand.
Ever since The Indian Weekender broke this story and sought a response from Housing New Zealand and several senior Ministers in the government about why Housing New Zealand denied the concerned couple purchase of the property, the response so far has been shambolic, at best.
Several well-intentioned MPs in government and office of Associate Finance Minister David Parker have taken upon themselves to clear the air that people on “resident visas” are certainly eligible to buy a residential property.
Below is the response from the office of the Associate Finance Minister.
People who don’t need consent to buy residential land:
- New Zealand, Australian or Singaporean citizens, New Zealand resident class visa and Australian/Singaporean permanent residents must meet all of the criteria below to be able to purchase without consent:
- Hold NZ residence class visa or Australian/Singaporean permanent resident visa
- Be a tax resident
- Have resided in NZ for the immediately preceding 12 months and live (be present) 183 days out of those 12 months
So the question is why Housing New Zealand is adamant about demanding from prospective migrant-resident buyers the proof of “Citizenship or Permanent Resident.”
The entire case of the Kiwi-Indian couple Jayant and Akansha Sharma is based on the premise that Housing New Zealand denied them buying a residential property for the reason that they were not a citizen or permanent residents.
In fact, Housing New Zealand requires property buyers to sign a statutory declaration saying, “I am a New Zealand Citizen or permanent resident (as the term is defined in clause 4 of the Immigration Act 2009).”
Essentially, implying that those on “Resident Visas” are categorically in-eligible to buy residential property from Housing New Zealand.
This is absolutely farce and illegal.
It is not clear if this anomaly had always existed, or is an outcome related to the changes brought-in by foreign buyers ban in 2018.
Regardless of the origin of the anomaly, what is clearly evident so far is that the government’s response to show leadership on this issue has been gravely missing, despite repeated probing from this newspaper.
What does govt need to do?
The government should, as a matter of priority, investigate the matter and find out how Housing New Zealand has denied eligible migrant-residents from purchasing residential property.
At the time of this story going live, The Indian Weekender has received an impromptu response from the office of the Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) – a government department tasked with responsibility of managing land titles and Crown property and supporting government decision-making around foreign ownership, on The Indian Weekender’s earlier reporting of the plight of the Kiwi-Indian couple.
The response from Vanessa Horne, Group Manager of the Overseas Investment Office accentuates the clearly established fact that people on resident visas are eligible to purchase property in New Zealand.
However, the response informs, and probably for the first time since the breaking of this story that “some affordable homes” are out of bounds for the residents.
“They meet the criteria because they have a residence class visa and they’re tax residents. The new rules also require permanent residents to have spent a certain amount of time in New Zealand.
“However, some developers and affordable home programmes have different criteria,” Vanessa Horne said.
This is first authoritative information on why possibly the Kiwi-Indian couple would have been denied buying one of the Auckland Housing Programme’s affordable homes.
This is certainly better than getting no response and explanation from the Housing New Zealand that why people on ‘resident visas’ are not eligible to buy a residential property in New Zealand.
However, the information is surprising, given that even ‘KiwiBuild houses’ are open to being sold to the migrants on resident visas, provided they meet all other requirements.
So what are the categories of ‘Affordable homes’ that are out of bounds for the hard-working, taxpaying migrants on resident visas?
In fact, what is the new category of ‘Affordable homes’ that this government has introduced in the last two years?
Who is eligible to buy those affordable homes?
Where is the accurate information available to everyone with regard to eligibility criteria for residents buying ‘Affordable homes’?
Right now the information available in the public domain is at best arbitrary and shambolic.
The government needs to pull up the socks and remove the general confusion on this critically important housing issue.