MORE than 900 people have been forced to repay the NSW First Home Buyer’s Grant, including a German national who bought a house in NSW, then returned to her homeland to live.
They were then forced to pay the government for the stamp duty that was waived when they bought the homes.
This year alone, the state government clawed back more than $6 million from users of the scheme who either failed to live in their first home for six months or used the grants to buy investment properties.
Earlier this month, German teacher Dagmar O’Hara was forced to repay her $7000 grant plus $12,054 in stamp duty and also pay a $1400 fine after she bought a house in Coffs Harbour in 2008 but rented it out, earning more than $63,000 in rent. Ms O’Hara said she was unable to live in the house because she had to go to Germany to look after her sick parents.
The maximum court-imposed penalty for fraudulently obtaining first-home benefits is two years prison and an $11,000 fine. A condition of the grant is that at least one applicant must live in the home as their principal place of residence continuously for at least six months within a year of settlement or construction.
An obvious exclusion to applying for the grant is if a buyer has previously purchased a home. Last month there was a 50 per cent spike in payments of both first-home grants and the grants plus stamp duty waiver, compared to October.
From January 1, newcomers to the property market will no longer be able to avoid paying transfer title charges on existing homes under $600,000.