New Zealand to ban foreigners from buying homes

The country has some of the highest rates of homelessness in the developed world

New Zealand to ban foreigners from buying homes

Aukland, New Zealand

New Zealand is to introduce a ban on foreigners buying existing homes in the country.

The restrictions are expected to be fast-tracked, coming in to force early next year.

The country's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the plan would make home ownership accessible for New Zealanders amid a housing bubble that has seen prices rocket in recent times.

Homeless and housing crisis

Prices have risen by more than 50% nationally over the past ten years. In the bustling city of Auckland meanwhile, prices have almost doubled during the same period.

Research indicates that the country also has some of the highest rates of homelessness in the developed world.

At the last census there were over 40,000 people categorised as “severely housing deprived.”

Ms Ardern’s Labour Party has said the situation amounts to a housing crisis that the previous administration failed to fix.

Accessible housing

Announcing the plan, she said her government had “found and agreed a solution to make housing and home ownership more accessible for New Zealanders.”

She said legislation governing overseas investment into the country will be amended to classify residential housing as “sensitive” and introduce a new test for residency.

“The effect of this will be that non residents or non citizens cannot purchase existing residential dwellings in New Zealand - with the exception of Australian Citizens,” she said.

She said the legislation will be in place before Christmas and once passed, will take effect early next year.

Australian exemption

Australian citizens have been made exempt to the restrictions due to the home ownership rights enjoyed by citizens of both countries in either jurisdiction.

Ms Ardern originally pledged to introduce the ban during the country’s recent general election campaign.

She became the country’s youngest ever leader in late October.