On November 30, 2020, the Land Owner Transparency Act (the "Act") comes into force, creating the new Land Owner Transparency Registry ("LOTR"). The LOTR is part of the B.C. government's 30-point plan to end hidden beneficial ownership of B.C. real estate. Starting on November 30, 2020, land owners need to be aware of their new obligations to file declarations and reports in the LOTR.
EFFECT ON ALL NEW LAND OWNERS
A "transparency declaration" must be filed in the LOTR by any recipient of an interest in land. A recipient must provide basic information on the property being acquired and declare if they are a "reporting body" in a transparency declaration. If a recipient is a "reporting body", they must file an additional document called a "transparency report".
WHAT IS A REPORTING BODY
A reporting body is a corporation, trustee, or partnership that already holds or is receiving an interest in land. This is subject to certain exceptions. Moreover, individuals who are not receiving land as a trustee or through a partnership are not considered reporting bodies and they do not need to file a transparency report.
WHO DOESN'T NEED TO REPORT
Schedules 1 and 2 of the Act lists entities that are exempt from filing transparency reports.
WHAT INFORMATION IS CONTAINED IN A TRANSPARENCY REPORT
Reporting bodies must file a transparency report that contains basic information on the reporting body, as well as the following information about every "interest holder" of the land:
- primary Identification Information (full name, date of birth, last known address);
- citizenship information (citizenship or permanent residency status, city/ province/ country of residence, SIN or ITN);
- date the individual became or ceased to be an interest holder; and
- description of how the individual is an interest holder.
WHO IS AN INTEREST HOLDER
Generally speaking, an "interest holder" is any individual or entity that meaningfully benefits from the reporting body's ownership of the land, including
- a shareholder with 10% or more of a corporation's shares or voting rights;
- a beneficiary of a trust; and
- a partner of a reporting partnership.
WHEN TO REPORT
- New Land Owners: A transparency declaration and (if applicable) a transparency report needs to be filed at the same time as the land transfer.
- Existing Land Owners: If a reporting body held land before November 30, 2020, that reporting body has until November 30, 2021 to file an initial transparency report.
- Change in Interest Holders: Any time there is a change of interest holders (including the removal or addition of new interest holders); an updated report must be filed.
WHAT CAN BE ACCESSED BY THE PUBLIC
Beginning on April 30, 2021, any member of the public can access and search the LOTR for information about interest holders.
Search results for the general public will not reveal an interest holder's date of birth or SIN, or any information for individuals who are legally incapable or minors.
HOW TO PROTECT INFORMATION
Interest holders may apply within 90 days of a transparency report being filed to have certain personal information omitted from public access. This can be done if the interest holder can show that access to this information would threaten their safety or mental health, or a member of their household.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT REPORTING
A person that fails to file a transparency report or provides false or misleading information may be fined a penalty of up to the greater of: (a) $50,000 and 5% of the assessed value of the property for non-individuals; and (b) $25,000 and 5% of the assessed value of the property for individuals.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.