Our enforcement activity recognises and supports the OIO’s purpose by keeping a watch on whether investors have followed the Overseas Investment Rules.

Overseas people must get consent to own many types of property (especially land) in New Zealand. They must also keep the commitments they make when they apply for consent.

Enforcement Purpose

The overseas investment rules are found in the Overseas Investment Act 2005 and the Overseas Investment Regulations 2005. They allow overseas people to bring benefits to New Zealand, such as by:

  • committing to the New Zealand community they live in
  • providing more housing for New Zealanders, or
  • delivering substantial benefits to New Zealand through quality investments.

Our enforcement function is about making sure overseas people:

  • who own or control New Zealand sensitive property have consent to do so
  • keep the commitments they make when they apply for consents
  • give us truthful and complete information about themselves and their plans.

Our Enforcement activity

The Overseas Investment Act recognises that it is a privilege for overseas people to own sensitive New Zealand property. We make sure those purchases and investments are in accordance with the rules.

This may be through our own monitoring and surveillance activities, through information provided to us by informants, or through our work with other regulatory and Government agencies.

All consent holders must also:

  • provide us with information about their investment promptly
  • provide us with honest and reliable updates on their progress on meeting their commitments
  • co-operate with us so we can assess progress, including co-operating with site inspections.

We will consider taking enforcement action when we find people:

  • own or control an asset without the correct consent
  • have not met their commitments in a material way - for example:
    •  they have not moved to New Zealand
    • they have not increased housing as promised
    • they have failed to deliver the promised benefits from their investment.
  • they have not provided us with information we require
  • they have misled or deceived us.

Taking enforcement action ensures fair treatment for those who comply with the Rules, as well as ensuring that those who do break the Rules are held to account and that others are deterred from doing so. It also gives the New Zealand public confidence we are doing our job.

Our current strategic priorities

All breaches of the Rules are important to us, but we have identified 8 strategic priorities that currently guide our enforcement work. These priority areas are important as they impact on public confidence in the overseas investment process.

We are likely to prioritise matters for investigation and enforcement action where we think:

  • the overseas person has acquired a sensitive New Zealand asset without consent
  • a benefit that was an important factor in the decision to allow the investment has not been delivered
  • the overseas person has deliberately or recklessly broken the Rules, or has tried to disguise their behaviour
  • the breach involves an asset of particular significance to New Zealand and New Zealanders – for example, because it has high cultural, historic, social or environmental value or it represents a material part of the productive economy or of a particular industry or sector
  • an investment made without consent would not have been approved if the overseas person had applied
  • an overseas person has made, or will make, a significant gain from an asset acquired in breach (property speculation and land-banking do not benefit New Zealand)
  • the Rules or conditions have been broken and the overseas person’s conduct creates public harm, indicating that they are not fit to hold the asset - this might be because the person has breached environmental or animal welfare laws and these are relevant to the type of investment they hold.

This list does not describe every aspect of our enforcement work. Rather, it outlines the areas where we see the greatest impact on public confidence in the effectiveness of the overseas investment process. We use the list to guide what and how we might carry out our enforcement activity.

We will review and update our strategic priorities from time to time.

With regard to the recent changes bringing residential housing into the overseas investment regime, we are likely to apply our strategic priorities by raising matters for investigation where a person:

  • buys residential housing land without consent, particularly if they are not eligible for consent, or if they are speculating in the property market by buying several houses.
  • Attempts to disguise overseas ownership to avoid the overseas investment rules.
  • Fails to meet conditions of their consent, such as not living in the home or failing to deliver on new housing as promised.

For more information about:

  • the enforcement criteria we use when considering whether to investigate and what enforcement action to take in particular cases
  • how we take action, and the tools and powers we can use, when we believe people have broken the Overseas Investment Rules.

See more about our enforcement criteria

See more about how we take action, and the tools and powers we can use

If you think you have made a mistake by failing to comply with the Rules, please let us know, as we may be able to take your co-operation into account when considering how we exercise our powers.

If you think you or someone else has breached the Rules, you can report that to us by using our Report a suspected breach form.

Report a suspected breach

Last Updated: 30 November 2018