The first-of-its-kind Land Owner Transparency Registry is a step closer to supporting transparency in B.C.’s real estate market with a November deadline for pre-existing owners to file.
Corporations, partnerships and trustees are encouraged to work with a legal professional to determine if they need to file with the Land Owner Transparency Registry and, if they need to, file before the Nov. 30, 2022, deadline.
“The Land Owner Transparency Registry represents an important cultural shift around how we bring transparency to land ownership in British Columbia, and the increasing number of filings are helping to shine a light on who owns land in our province,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance. “These are still early days for the registry, but when it matures it will be a powerful tool we can use to close tax loopholes, fight tax evasion and help stop money laundering.”
Most people who live on their property as a principal residence will not have to file with the registry. The registry is identifying beneficial owners whose names do not necessarily appear in a land title search.
Over the past two years, the Province and the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) have been supporting lawyers, notaries and property owners with online education and resources to help prepare pre-existing owners that are required to file. These owners are known as reporting bodies within legislation and can include companies, societies, associations, trusts or partnerships that own land or have a lease of more than 10 years in B.C.
LandTransparency.ca has a general help section that includes a quiz that will help determine which reporting bodies are required to file, and also help identify beneficial owners: https://landtransparency.ca/quiz-questions/are-you-a-reporting-body/
Other resources on the website are sample transparency declarations and reports, and educational videos and recorded webinars, which will help reporting bodies understand what information needs to be provided to legal professional to complete the filing with the registry.
“This is a big change for many landowners in B.C., and the first step owners can take to comply with the registry is to reach out to their legal representative,” said Parisa Hurst, vice-chair of the real property section, Canadian Bar Association – B.C. branch. “Over the past several years, members of our association have been working closely with the LTSA to understand the operations of the registry, and lawyers working in this area are ready to support filing by reporting bodies, in particular those with more complex reporting structures.”
To help legal representatives, the Province has published online interpretive information to help clarify how the Land Owner Transparency Act applies to more complex ownership structures. The guidance also helps reporting bodies identify which interest holders, also commonly referred to as beneficial owners, must be included in the registry report.
The registry is an important tool that will help end hidden ownership by revealing the interest holders of land and exposing who truly owns land in British Columbia. Ending hidden ownership in real estate was a key recommendation by the Expert Panel on Real Estate as a crucial measure to ending money laundering in the B.C. economy.
For information about interpretation and application of the Land Owner Transparency Act: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/real-estate-bc/land-owner-transparency-registry/interpretation
To access education and outreach materials: https://landtransparency.ca/
A backgrounder follows.