24 April 2020

We hope you are all doing well and continuing to stay safe in your “bubbles”. These are challenging times for a large range of businesses and industries, both in New Zealand and internationally.

This is a special edition of PeriOIOdical, aimed at updating you on operational changes to the Overseas Investment Office.

In the last edition, we wrote how important it was to the Office that we minimise the impact of COVID-19 on those we work with. This includes reviewing current applications, talking with investors and advisors, and where needed, reprioritising applications. We also outlined changes on how we can receive statutory declarations while we all work remotely.

We’ve made further tweaks to our operations and these are outlined in detail below. If you have any questions, please get in touch via oio@linz.govt.nz, or contact your assessor directly.
 

Current applications for consent

We continue to progress applications already received by the Office. We welcome any enquiries you may have about your application’s progress or any information that will help us understand your current situation. Below are some things to be aware of if you currently have an application with us.

Stay in touch

Please stay in contact with the Office during this time, especially if anything affecting your current application, or ability to respond, changes. Any changes made during the assessment process always affects the time it takes to make a recommendation. The earlier we know of changes, the faster we can respond.

Resource

We have assigned additional staff to all current applications to ensure adequate assessors during this period. This leaves us well placed to ensure your application will be assessed.

Extensions available - requests for further information or documentation

If the Office has requested more information from you – and you are unable to meet the deadline due to the COVID-19 pandemic - then you may request an extension.

Please put your request in writing and email it to the assessor looking after your application and make sure to tell us why you need extra time. If we agree to an extension, your new due date will be 15 June 2020.

Revising current application information - financial and economic changes

While the Office is currently reviewing all applications to see if information already provided needs to be revised due to changes in the domestic and global economic outlook, it is important you get in touch with us too. We will let you know if we need more information about your application.

Statutory declarations

  • One Home to Live In pathway: Investors must provide a statutory declaration to satisfy the ‘commitment to reside’ test for these applications. We can accept remotely administered statutory declarations made under the Epidemic Preparedness (Oaths and Declarations Act 1957) Immediate Modification Order 2020.
  • All other consent pathways: We can accept remotely administered statutory declarations or we can consider accepting unsworn signed statements in place of ‘good character’ and ‘true and correct’ statutory declarations if it is not possible for an investor to provide properly executed statutory declarations due to COVID-19. To request a waiver, email the primary assessor looking after your application and explain why you cannot provide statutory declarations. If your request is granted, the assessor will provide you with template statements to complete and sign.

New applications

The legal requirement to obtain consent to acquire sensitive New Zealand assets has not changed – the Office can accept new applications. Please note the information below if you plan to apply soon.

Pre-application meetings

We are conducting pre-application meetings online. Please let us know if you would like a pre-application meeting for an application you are planning to make. The quality of applications is significantly higher after these meetings are held.

Requests for urgency

Applicants can ask for an application to be urgently processed. If you do request urgency, please include reasons for this. We are currently prioritising applications that ensure an entity’s financial viability. If this applies to you or your client, we strongly encourage you to request an online pre-application meeting with us as soon as you can.

Quality assurance and acceptance

When we receive a new application, we carry out a quality assurance (QA) process to confirm the application meets quality and completeness standards to be accepted for assessment. Ordinarily this takes us up to seven working days. We are now allowing up to 12 working days for QAs due to competing work priorities and to allow some flexibility for staff who are working from home.

We often request further information following the acceptance of an application. To acknowledge the extra time needed to conduct normal business at this time, we are extending our standard timeframe for a response from you from 10 to 15 working days.

These timeframes would be adjusted for urgent applications.

Farmland advertising

The farmland advertising requirements can still be satisfied during lockdown periods, provided the process in the Overseas Investment Regulations 2005 is followed. Whether this is the case will depend on the circumstances involved. 

Things to note include:

  • The definition of working days is set out in section 6 of the Overseas Investment Act 2005 and has not changed because of the COVID-19 restrictions;
  • Advertising started during higher level COVID-19 restrictions will be subject to additional scrutiny (particularly if it occurs after an agreement has been entered with an overseas person);
  • The minimum advertising period is 20 working days after the advertisement is first placed or for a longer period if the advertisement states or implies that offers will be accepted for that longer period;
  • The application for consent must contain information that demonstrates the advertising requirements are met.

Vendors or applicants who are not sure advertising requirements have been met are encouraged to contact the Office before applying.
Further information about farmland advertising.

Current consent holders

The Office recognises that both reporting on, and complying with, consent conditions may be challenging for some consent-holders. If this is the case, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible.

Reporting on compliance with conditions

If COVID-19 is affecting your ability to submit a compliance report, please contact OIOMonitoring@linz.govt.nz. We are currently considering extensions to reporting deadlines to 15 June 2020 on a case-by-case basis.

Meeting special conditions

If COVID-19 will impact your client’s ability to meet special conditions, please contact OIOMonitoring@linz.govt.nz as soon as possible with details of which conditions may not be met and why. The Office is continuing to develop our approach to responding to consent-holders who are unable to meet their commitments at this time, based on principles of fairness and consistency. 

We will continue to look at adjustments the Office needs to make to consider the longer-term impact of COVID-19. Please get in touch if you need any help.

Ngā mihi nui,

Vanessa Horne
Group Manager, Overseas Investment Office
Land Information New Zealand

Media enquiries

Email: media@linz.govt.nz or phone: 027 566 5251