Tuesday 5 November 2019

Not an unintended consequence

Remember how Labour was elected on a promise to ban foreign speculators from the NZ housing market, then set legislation that was far far broader than that?
Stuff's Susan Edmunds reports on one of the inevitable consequences of that legislation:
A UK-born New Zealand permanent resident says he's been cut out of the property market by restrictions on foreign buyers, because his job requires him to spend time overseas.

Residential land can now only be sold to people who are citizens or permanent residents, with exceptions for Australians and Singaporeans.

But people with a residence visa need to meet conditions. They must have a residence-class visa, must have lived in New Zealand for the past 12 months, have been present in New Zealand for at least 183 days of the past 12 months, and be a tax resident.

Richard Moore moved to New Zealand to serve with the police in Northland as a strategic intelligence analyst in 2005, and bought a house in Whangarei.

He has since taken roles with the United Nations, and is current serving as a security analyst in the department of safety and security in Austria. He has also been posted to Nigeria, Cambodia and Lebanon.

Moore sold his Whangarei house in 2016 with the plan to buy land further north to build a home for his retirement,

But in May this year he found that his job might make that hard to do.

"In May this year I flew back to New Zealand - the UN classifies this as my place of origin and they give me a return flight every two years -  to examine a list of plots up in the Far North. Deciding on one I obtained a lim report and instructed my lawyers to check out the property, I also contacted my bank  in regards to a possible mortgage, it was then the bank told me I may be ineligible to buy the property. Checking with my lawyers they confirmed this state of affairs.

"Basically since the introduction of the Overseas Investment Amendment Act 2018, I am no longer considered an ordinary resident, having been outside New Zealand for six months in the last 12 months and thus ineligible to purchase property or land. I could apply for special dispensation, which would cost $2600 non-refundable but I would still be required to sign an undertaking I interned to return to New Zealand in the next three  months and live there for the next 12 months uninterrupted. Working for the UN this was not going to happen.

"This really is an insult to those who dedicate their lives to serving in the international community and represent New Zealand while they do so."
I'm quoted later in the piece. Susan asked me whether this were an unintended consequence of the legislation. It is not an unintended consequence of the legislation. This is the legislation working exactly as designed. It was designed to cast far too broad a net, and it has cast far too broad a net.

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