The B.C. government announced on November 2, 2021 that it will be extending the deadline for pre-existing owners to file with the Land Owner Transparency Registry, giving reporting bodies with an interest in land more time to file a transparency report without incurring penalties.
The Province has heard from lawyers (including Lawson Lundell lawyers) and others that pre-existing owners need more time to gather information about ownership and prepare to file with the registry. The Land Owner Transparency Registry represents a significant change for land owners in B.C. and the Province acknowledged the pandemic has also placed additional administrative strain on the resources of businesses in B.C. Therefore, the deadline for filing has been extended to Nov. 30, 2022.
The Province has indicated that it will provide greater support through direct outreach and education, and give reporting bodies the time needed to determine if they must file and work with their lawyers to comply with the new requirement.
Prior to filing, reporting bodies that owned or otherwise had an interest in land prior to Nov. 30, 2020, and continue to own or have an interest, must identify any interest holders. After identifying these individuals, reporting bodies must gather information, including the full name, city and country of principal residence and social insurance numbers of all interest holders. This information is required to complete a transparency report.
Examples of interest holders, or beneficial owners, include:
- shareholders of a corporation that own land in B.C.;
- individuals who indirectly control the shares of a landowning corporation; and
- a trust beneficiary (a person, or group of people, who will benefit from the assets owned by the trust) where the land is held for them by a trustee.
The Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia administers the registry and the Act requires reporting bodies complete and file their transparency report electronically.
Since Nov. 30, 2020, all new purchasers of land have been required to submit a transparency report to the registry, including if the land is being held for another interest holder.
Consequences for not filing with the registry can be substantial, with penalties up to $25,000 for an individual, or $50,000 for a corporation, or 5% of the assessed value of the property, whichever is greater.
The registry is the first of its kind in Canada and the only beneficial registry of land in the country. The registry addresses the Expert Panel on Money Laundering in BC Real Estate’s elements for a beneficial registry and also addresses the concerns raised in Dirty Money – Part 2 Report on the lack of beneficial ownership transparency during real property transactions.
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