Big changes are coming to British Columbia land ownership which include new reporting requirements effective November 30, 2020. The current NDP Government is enacting new legislation called the Land Owner Transparency Act (or “LOTA”) which comes into effect November 30, 2020. This enactment creates a new publicly searchable registry named the Land Owner Transparency Registry (or “LOTR”) which will now house information on persons, organization, partnerships and trusts who hold an “interest” in property in British Columbia. Basically this means that the government and its agencies can now see the “corporate interest holders” or shareholders of a company, beneficial owners of a trust, or partners in a partnership that owns land. In their own words “taking action to end hidden ownership” – and it is exactly that – creating transparency, and allowing easily accessible information about the people behind the companies and trusts.
How this effects you as an individual: Now, when you purchase a property you will be required to complete a declaration which must be filed with the land transfer which states whether or not you are a “reporting body”, for example, a relevant corporation, a trustee of a relevant trust, or a partner of a relevant partnership. If your answer is “No, I am not a reporting body”, that’s as far as you need to go. If your answer is “Yes, I am a reporting body”, then further information is required.
How this effects you as a “reporting body”: If you are a reporting body, then there is a requirement to file an additional document named a Transparency Report. This Transparency Report varies based on whether you are a relevant corporation, relevant trust or relevant partnership. Here is a link to the required information to be included in a Transparency Report as well as background information on the new legislation: https://landtransparency.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/LTSA-LOTR-FactSheet_Oct-15.pdf . Furthermore, if you are a “reporting body” who already owns land in British Columbia, you are not exempt. You will have until November, 2021 to create your Transparency Report and ensure it is filed with the Land Title Office.
Failure to file these declarations and reports can result in the Land Title Office Registrar declining to accept your land transfer. Reporting false or incorrect information can result in fines of up to $100,000.00 for corporations and $50,000.00 for individuals. These are not small fines. While we have no indication at this time of how this new legislation will be enforced, its wise to consider the value of these fines and ensure you are providing correct information and adhering to the timelines.
While this is not an exhaustive account of how this new legislation will change the face of the British Columbia’s real estate market, one thing is for certain – you can expect be asked a lot of questions and will be required to provide a lot of additional information in order to purchase land in B.C. moving forward. If you are considering purchasing land, please feel free to reach out to our office for further information on what you will be required to declare and report, so you can be as prepared as possible when the time comes to file your land transfer and make your declarations.
If you have any questions regarding the above or any other legal matter, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (778) 940-3768 or [email protected].
This information is general in nature only. You should consult a lawyer before acting on any of this information. This information should not be considered as legal advice. To learn more about your legal needs, please contact our office at (778) 940-3768 or any of our lawyers practicing in the area of real estate law at the following:
Danielle (Dani) Brito: [email protected]
Jennette Vopicka: [email protected]