Land Owner Transparency Registry opens to public
Transparency information on interest holders of B.C. real estate is available for public search in the Land Owner Transparency Registry, giving law enforcement and tax authorities a significant tool to combat money laundering in the real estate market, according to the B.C. Ministry of Finance.
The Land Owner Transparency Registry is a first-of-its-kind registry in Canada that requires beneficial ownership disclosure for all land types. Whenever a relevant corporation, trust or partnership buys land in B.C., they are now required to disclose the interest holders of that land and file that information with the registry through a transparency report.
“When British Columbians are looking to buy a home, they expect that the market is fair and transparent,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance. “For years, money launderers were able to conceal their identities behind corporations and trusts, while using B.C.’s real estate market to hide the proceeds of crime and distort the cost of housing. Those days are coming to an end.”
Pre-existing reporting bodies with an interest in land have until Nov. 30, 2021, to file transparency reports with the Land Owner Transparency Registry.
Information, including names of all corporate interest holders, beneficial owners or partnership interest holders, is searchable through the registry. New transparency report information is held for 90 days before becoming searchable to the public. Tax authorities, law enforcement agencies and relevant regulators will have access to more detailed information and may use it to crack down on tax evasion, fraud and money laundering.
“Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and making it harder for people to hide dirty money in the shadows of our real estate market will benefit all British Columbians,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing. “The information in the registry is essential to empowering authorities to help us level the playing field between those who prefer to cheat, and those hard-working British Columbians playing by the rules, paying their taxes and following the law.”
In 2019, the Expert Panel on Money Laundering in BC Real Estate identified the disclosure of beneficial ownership to be the “single most important measure” that can be taken to address money laundering. In Homes For B.C.: A 30-Point Plan for Housing Affordability in British Columbia, taking action to end hidden ownership is identified as a crucial measure to ensure government and relevant authorities know who owns what in the province.
The province has introduced other measures to end hidden ownership, including requiring additional information on beneficial ownership on the property transfer tax form, as well as requiring private B.C. corporations to hold accurate and up-to-date transparency information in their corporate offices.
The Expert Panel on Money Laundering in BC 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.
The Land Owner Transparency Registry is administered by the Land Title and Survey Authority of BC.