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Posted: December 1, 2020

Land Owner Transparency Registry launched

Registered owners of real estate in B.C. must now register and provide information about their interest holders with the Land Owner Transparency Registry, to help expose and stop illegal funds in B.C.’s housing market.

“British Columbians expect that when they buy a home, they are entering a housing market based on fairness. But for decades, that didn’t happen when they were in competition with fraudsters flush with illicit cash,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance. “This first-of-its-kind registry will help return transparency and moderation to housing markets throughout B.C.”

The registry is the first in the world to require land ownership disclosure of all land types and applies to land owned by corporations, partners and trustees (unless specifically excluded by the legislation). In its report, the Expert Panel on Real Estate said the disclosure of beneficial ownership is the “single most important measure” that can be taken to address money laundering.

As of Nov. 30, when corporations, trustees or partners purchase land in B.C., they will be required to disclose the interest holders of that land. Within a year (Nov. 30, 2021), all reporting bodies that are corporations, trustees or partners – and that have an interest in land as of Nov. 30, 2020 – will be required to disclose their interest holders as well. Going forward, the B.C. government will review the effectiveness of the registry and if required, will make improvements, explained a Ministry of Finance media release.

The information provided will help improve transparency in B.C.’s housing market. It may also be used by tax and law authorities to investigate and crack down on illegal activity. This will help prevent money laundering and bolster confidence in the housing sector, the release continued.

“B.C. is taking the necessary steps to prevent money laundering, including our panel’s key recommendation to implement a publicly assessable Land Owner Transparency Registry,” said Maureen Maloney, chair, Expert Panel on Combatting Money Laundering in Real Estate. “These measures mean that B.C. homebuyers and investors can continue to trust the housing sector, which is an important pillar towards a stable economy.”

The ministry said the Land Owner Transparency Registry is a critical measure in its Homes For B.C.: A 30-Point Plan for Housing Affordability in British Columbia and is designed to crack down on tax fraud and close loopholes. The 30-point plan also includes the Condo and Strata Assignment Integrity Register, strengthening audit and enforcement powers and working with the federal government.

The Expert Panel on Money Laundering in B.C. Real Estate released its Combatting Money Laundering report in May 2019.

The panel’s report estimated that $7.4 billion was laundered through B.C. in 2018, $5 billion of which is estimated to have been laundered through real estate.

Read the Expert Panel on Combatting Money Laundering in Real Estate’s full report.

e-KNOW file photo

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