The federal government has sold over 300 Australian properties, valued in excess of $380 million, that were illegally owned by foreign nationals.
The 316 properties were sold between 2015 and 31 October of this year, with the majority held in Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
In that time, the Coalition government forced 144 properties to be sold in Victoria, valued at more than $162 million; 73 in NSW and 64 in Queensland.
The owners of the properties came from a number of countries, including China, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, India, the United States, Hong Kong, Italy and Germany, and all were found to be in breach of the rules regarding foreign ownership.
Of these properties, the highest number purchased and value of divestments in a single year was recorded in 2017–2018. Over the year, 131 properties worth $133.90 million were sold by foreign nationals who had breached regulation.
Between 2016–2017, 96 properties valued at $96.8 million were sold, while in 2015–2016, 54 properties valued at $61.5 million were sold.
Under the federal government’s appointment, the Australian Taxation Office has been responsible for ensuring real estate compliance by foreign nationals since 2015.
As a result of the government’s stronger penalty regime, the ATO has issued more than 1,500 penalty notices to foreigners who have not obtained Foreign Investment Review Board approval before purchasing property and/or have breached a condition of previously approved applications.
As part of a raft of housing affordability measures, the federal government in recent years has put the breaks on foreign investment in residential property.
Foreign investment in residential property is still doable under Australian law, but there are stricter obligations that foreign nationals have to meet to stay above board.
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