A new parliamentary economics committee report has called for stricter procedures and penalties for foreigners illegally buying Australian homes, and criminal charges for their third parties.
The committee seeks to record foreign property owners on a national database and fine violators, after it found that the Foreign Investment Review Board and the trade policy division of the Treasury failed to enforce laws. They also lacked data on how many foreigners legally purchased homes, The Australian reports.
The committee also wants to make sure foreign buyers sold their properties after they left Australia.
In addition, the committee’s recommendations include civil fines for any third parties who aided the purchase of foreigners, such as real estate agents, conveyancers, family, and friends. They shall face criminal prosecutions as well.
The review board approved foreigners’ applications to buy 5,091 existing houses in 2013 — up from just 647 approvals three years earlier.
Chinese buyers are still leading the shopping spree with $5.9bn worth of housing investments, followed by Canadians ($4.9bn), Americans ($4.4bn), and Singaporeans ($2bn).
According to the law, a temporary resident bearing a visa longer than 12 months can purchase a single home while in Australia, but must sell it within three months of leaving the country. An application fee of around $1500 is also required.