General policy statement
There is currently no easy or accurate way to measure the amount of land under the control of foreign nationals. This is due to the fact that, unlike in other jurisdictions, there is no official database of foreign ownership in New Zealand. As it currently stands, estimates as to the extent of foreign land ownership vary from 1% to over 3%.
While the Overseas Investment Office collects data about applications and their subsequent grant or rejection, these details that the office collects do not fully capture the extent of foreign ownership in New Zealand.
This Bill will ensure that a comprehensive register of all foreign-owned New Zealand land is compiled and made available to the general public. The register will record names and nationalities, the amount and value of land involved, and the regions in which the land is situated. Purchasers will be obligated, upon registering land dealings, to provide the information for the register.
The register will apply to all dealings in “land” as that term is defined in section 2 of the Land Transfer Act 1952. The definition of the term “land” includes “messuages, tenements and hereditaments, corporeal and incorporeal, of every kind and description”. This means that the register will extend to dealings involving a dwelling-house ( a messuage), physical things on land such as buildings, minerals, and trees (corporeal hereditaments), and interests in land such as easements, profits a prendre, and rent charges (incorporeal hereditaments).
The register is intended to be a resource for policy-makers and the general public, who will be able to gauge foreign landholdings across New Zealand as well as within their own local communities. The register will provide transparency for concerned New Zealanders.