Australia: Residential Focus - 9 December 2015

Last Updated: 15 December 2015
Article by Jack O’Donnell

Most Read Contributor in Australia, September 2017

On December 1, the Australian Government's "amnesty" for foreign investors in breach of foreign investment rules relating to residential property (foreign investment rules) came to an end. In its place are greater compliance powers for the Australian Taxation Office, higher federal government fees and tougher penalties for breaches.

In May, the government announced a seven month window giving foreign nationals who had purchased residential property in breach of foreign investment rules until 30 November 2015 to declare the breach and avoid a penalty. Foreign nationals who declared the breach and who remained in ownership of residential property in breach of the rules were required to sell within 12 months.

With the recent passage of the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Legislation Amendment Act 2015 (Cth), Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Fee Imposition Act 2015 (Cth), and Register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land Act 2015 (Cth) through Federal Parliament, as well as various pieces of new Regulation, important changes are now in effect and any investors in breach of the foreign investment rules, together with those who have assisted them, could face severe penalties.

A Bill was also recently introduced into Federal Parliament imposing a 10 per cent non-final withholding tax on payments made to foreign residents that dispose of certain taxable Australian property. Please click here to read more.

Snapshot of the new foreign investment regime

Increased penalties

  • Existing criminal penalties have increased to $135,000 or three years' imprisonment, or both for individuals. Previously, individuals faced a maximum penalty of $90,000. Companies violating the rules will now face fines of up to $675,000.

New application fee

  • Foreign applicants wanting to buy a residential property will now have to pay an application fee. For a property valued at $1 million or under, the fee is $5000. For a property valued over $1 million, the application fee is $10,000. For each additional million dollars the home is worth, the application fee increases by $10,000.

Property developers and third parties beware

  • Property developers and third parties also face strict punishments for breaching foreign investment rules. Developers with exemption certificates who fail to advertise their new dwellings in Australia in accordance with the conditions of that exemption certificate now also face a maximum fine of $135,000 or three years' imprisonment. Third Parties who knowingly assist foreign investors to breach foreign investment rules are now subject to civil and criminal penalties, including fines of up to $45,000 for individuals and $225,000 for companies. A third party includes those persons who might provide services to facilitate the transfer of interests such as stockbrokers, lawyers, conveyancers, real estate agents and other advisors.

In the media

Buildings Day: GBCA commits to net zero certification
The Green Building Council of Australia will introduce net zero certification for buildings from 2016, it has announced as part of the inaugural Buildings Day at COP 21 in Paris. The GBCA will push for increased minimum energy efficiency standards in the Building Code of Australia (04 December 2015). More...


NSW home approvals strong but dipping
The Australian Bureau of Statistics for October show that New South Wales home approvals are still strong but have been dipping over the last two months, says the Urban Taskforce (01 December 2015). NSW home approvals strong but dipping

Residential construction high in NSW but non-residential slowing down
The September Quarter Australian Bureau of Statistics construction figures for NSW indicate residential construction is strong but non-residential construction is slowing down (26 November 2015). Residential construction high in NSW but non-residential slowing down

Practice and courts

ABCB Fixture Unit Ratings and Warm Water Systems
The ABCB is currently undertaking a number of plumbing code development and research projects two of which being Fixture Unit Ratings and Warm Water Systems. These consultations are now available for comment on the ABCB website. Submissions close: Fixture Unit Ratings discussion paper:27 November 2015; Warm Water Systems Report: 11 December 2015.

Announcements, Draft Policies and Plans released 2015

NSW BPB: More qualifications recognised under Accreditation Scheme
The Building Professionals Board now recognises more qualifications as meeting accreditation requirements (04 December 2015) More qualifications recognised under Accreditation Scheme

NSW BPB: Comment by 14 December 2015: regulation of manufactured homes
A discussion paper on the regulation of manufactured homes is on exhibit until 14 December 2015 (04 December 2015) Comment by 14 December 2015: regulation of manufactured homes


ACT Builders Pty Ltd v Haridemos [2015] NSWCATAP 256
CIVIL AND ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL- Appeal Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NSW) – whether grounds raise questions of law - s80, cl12 of schedule 4, whether decision fair and equitable – whether decision against the weight of the evidence – discretion to grant leave not enlivened – leave application refused Denial of fairness- evidence provided in re-examination Measure of damages- rectification of work not in accordance with contract More...

Black v Brereton [2015] NSWSC 1781
APPEAL – statutory appeal – application for leave to appeal against a decision of the Appeal Panel of the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal pursuant to s 83(1) of the Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013 (NSW) – whether there are errors of law contained in the reasons for decision of the Appeal Panel – dispute regarding timber flooring ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – judicial review – whether the plaintiff is entitled to relief in the nature of prerogative writs – appeal dismissed. More...

Damien v JKAM Investments Pty Ltd [2015] NSWCA 368
CONTRACT – respondent seeks to enforce alleged building work debt – identity of contracting entity in dispute – whether primary judge erred in finding that the appellant had contracted with Architectural Collections Pty Ltd (ACPL) – whether use of post-contractual conduct permissible - whether debt validly assigned by ACPL to the respondent PROCEDURE – whether primary judge erred by not allowing the appellant to tender email correspondence. More...

Nichols Constructions Pty Limited v Elphick [2015] NSWSC 1732
CIVIL – practice and procedure – separate question – whether appropriate – whether breach issues should be separated from all other issues. More...



Regulations and other miscellaneous instruments

Civil and Administrative Tribunal (Amendment No 3) Rule 2015 (2015-735) — published LW 4 December 2015


Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Legislation Amendment Act 2015

Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Imposition Fees Act 2015

Register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land Act 2015

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.