Complying with British Columbia’s new real estate owner reporting requirements will create a lot of legal work and raise the price of real estate transactions, lawyers say.
The NDP government of British Columbia’s Land Owner Transparency Act is intended to end hidden ownership of real estate in B.C. and increase tax revenue from the sector by creating a public registry. Much of B.C.’s highly priced land is owned by mysterious numbered companies, offshore entities and trusts, which are used to hide wealth, evade the tax man and wash dirty money, according to a provincial ministry of finance press release.
Currently, the Land Title and Survey Authority already holds the names of property owners, but the act aims to hold accountable beneficial ownership structures that are being used to hide the true identities of real estate owners, states the ministry. Under the new law, enacted May 16 but still awaiting regulations until it can take effect, those who own land in B.C. — either directly or indirectly or through corporations, trusts and partnerships — will have to report their identities to the government, which will create a publicly searchable registry.