Vacancy fee for foreign owners

Who needs to lodge a vacancy fee return?

The vacancy fee return must be lodged by foreign owners of residential dwellings who:

  • Made a foreign investment application for residential property after 7.30pm AEST on 9 May 2017.

  • Purchased under a New Dwelling Exemption Certificate that a developer applied for after 7:30pm AEST on 9 May 2017.

  • Failed to submit a foreign investment application but purchased a residential property before 9 May 2017.

A vacancy fee return must be also lodged when:

  • The dwelling has been occupied or made available for rent.

  • If the dwelling is owned by two or more people as joint tenants, you only need to lodge one return.

  • If you own a share of a dwelling as a tenant in common.

Vacancy fee exemptions

If the dwelling was incapable of being occupied as a residence for at least 183 days in a vacancy year, you will not be liable to pay the vacancy fee. However, you must lodge a vacancy fee return within 30 days of the end of each vacancy year to claim this exemption.

Your dwelling may be considered incapable of being occupied as a residence if:

  • The dwelling is damaged, unsafe or is otherwise unsuitable to be occupied as a residence.

  • The dwelling is undergoing substantial repairs or renovations.

  • Occupation of the dwelling as a residence is prohibited or legally restricted, by an order of a court or tribunal or a law of the Commonwealth, state or territory.

  • A person (who may or may not be the foreign person) who ordinarily occupies the dwelling was absent from the dwelling due to receiving long-term, in-patient, medical or residential care.

In addition, you may be required to provide acceptable supporting evidence. Remissions and waivers are determined on a case by case basis.

Land registration number

You need to be registered on the Land and water register to lodge your vacancy fee return

  • If you have already registered, you only have to lodge your vacancy fee return.

  • If you have not registered, submit a Land and water registration form (no cost involved in registering).

How much is the vacancy fee

The vacancy fee will generally be the same amount as the foreign investment application fee you paid at the time you submitted your foreign investment application.

What penalties may apply

  • If you fail to lodge a vacancy fee return on time or fail to keep records that are relevant to your liability for vacancy fees, you may be liable for an infringement notice or a civil penalty.

  • If you do not lodge your vacancy fee return by the due date you may be liable to pay a vacancy fee regardless of the number of days the dwelling was residential occupied during the vacancy year.


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