Foreign landlords imminent as Government waters down foreign home buyer ban

Banning foreign home buyers was one of the major promises of Labour's election campaign, but the Government has now watered down its ban.

Now, foreigners can buy apartments or in some case buildings off the plans and keep them. Initially, they were going to have to sell them once they were built.

The move means foreign developers can build residential properties of 20 dwellings and rent them out, meaning there will now be the possibility for foreign landlords.

The ban doesn't apply to people from within Australia or Singapore.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says the move is a "smartening up of the foreign buyers legislation" - but National MP Gerry Brownlee says the Bill "now has so many carve-outs in it that some of its original purpose is almost lost".

Around March last year, 7.8 percent of homes in central Auckland were bought by foreign buyers. At the same time this year that had more than doubled to 18 percent.

But overall in New Zealand, foreign ownership isn't rising - steady at around just 3 percent.

Trade Minister David Parker says while key trading partners like China might try to copy Singapore and get an exemption for their citizens as well, they won't get one.

And New Zealand's about to enter into a free-trade deal with the EU and the UK.

The Government's back down does help mitigate criticism it's stymying investment, but the foreign buyers ban can't really be called a ban any longer.