The British Columbia provincial government has announced that it will be creating a public registry of real estate ownership to put an end to “hidden ownership”. The draft legislation is set out in the Land Owner Transparency Act White Paper.
The registry will require corporations, trusts and partnerships to disclose the individual names of beneficial owners or those who fundamentally own and control the real estate. It is anticipated that the disclosure will help prevent tax evasion, fraud and money laundering.
The Greater Vancouver Area has experienced sky-rocketing increases in residential homes with a shortage of affordable homes for residents to buy or rent. The public registry is just one measure being adopted in British Columbia by both the provincial and municipal governments to address the current housing crisis in the Greater Vancouver Area. (See our previous blog posts on taxes imposed on speculators and foreign purchasers and vacant residential properties, as well as the agreement with Airbnb to collect taxes from Airbnb hosts). All of these measures have been designed to make things less welcoming and lucrative for residential real estate investors.
While the registry will be open to the public, privacy concerns will be addressed. Some information such as social insurance numbers and birth dates will only be available to law enforcement and tax authorities.
The Registrar of Land Titles will be able to refuse to register any property if a completed transparency declaration and full disclosure report have not been provided. The draft legislation creates administrative penalties of up to $50,000 for designated contraventions and criminal offences and penalties of up to $100,000 for designated offences.
Comments on the White Paper from the public and industry stakeholders can be submitted until end of day August 19, 2018 and sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.