When New Zealand headed into Covid Level 4 in March, real estate transactions stalled because of difficulties completing essential elements of settlement, such as the legal paperwork, giving of vacant possession and the inability of moving companies to access the property. In response, a number of buyers and sellers adjusted their agreements to delay settlement until alert levels decreased.
Since the pandemic arrived on our shores, the government has made available multiple types of financial relief; more than one may be available to your business. Although applications under the popular Wage Subsidy Scheme ended on 1 September 2020, other options are still available for support if you need it.
Apprentice Support Programme
If your business has an apprentice who is actually training, you may be eligible to receive $1,000/month for first year apprentices and $500/month for second year apprentices. This payment is for a maximum of 20 months from August 2020 to March 2022. Visit here at Work and Income Te Hiranga Tangata to apply.
It seems as though the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has been under constant evolution over the last two years. In June, the OIO enacted a change that now requires all overseas purchasers of New Zealand business assets to submit a notification to the OIO before the transaction takes place — regardless of the asset value. This submission will allow the OIO to monitor and prevent New Zealand asset ownership being unnecessarily diluted due to stressed sales caused by unprecedented economic pressures from Covid.
Which transactions does this apply to?
Previously, ‘overseas persons’ who purchased New Zealand business assets valued under $100 million (excluding land), did not have to apply for OIO consent. Under the ‘Emergency Notification’ requirement, however, the OIO must be notified by every overseas person before purchasing any New Zealand business assets — even if the transaction holds minimal value. This includes an increase of shareholding in a business in which the overseas person already holds an interest. The requirement to submit a notification does not extend to purchases that require the consent of the OIO, as the office will already be aware, and have the opportunity to reject, those transactions.
Best to sign again after lockdown to avoid later complications
During the Covid lockdown, special rules applied to the signing of some legal documents. Obviously it was, and is, not possible to have your signature witnessed by someone outside your bubble in Levels 3 and 4. So the law allowed signing over audio-visual link (AVL) and other similar arrangements. While these documents will remain valid in the future, it may be wise to have wills and enduring powers of attorney (EPAs) signed out of lockdown to avoid any time-consuming queries later on.
Many legal documents need to be signed in a particular way or before a particular person. For example, some documents such as affidavits must be signed in front of a JP or lawyer. As this was, and is, not possible during lockdown, special rules were put in place to enable people to sign documents such as wills, EPAs, affidavits and so on.
Smoking in motor vehicles with children now banned
Smoking in motor vehicles when children under the age of 18 years old are present is now prohibited. The passing of the Smoke-free Environments (Prohibiting Smoking in Motor
Vehicles Carrying Children) Amendment Act 2020 has made this an offence.
Police will now have the discretion to issue on-the-spot fines of $50 for those who are caught smoking in cars with children, or they may issue warnings or refer people to stop-smoking agencies.
As I write this editorial, the Covid-19 pandemic has had, and continues to have, a long-lasting effect on New Zealand and the rest of the world. Everyone has been affected in some way – to a greater or lesser degree.
During lockdown, our physical environment changed with significantly less pollution and fewer emissions. It was quieter with only a handful of vehicles on the road, and we could more easily see and hear our native birds. Our focus altered to our home and families, go-ing for long walks and enjoying each other’s company.