BC's Land Owner Transparency Registry

What is this new Registry?

When you buy or acquire real property in BC, you might register that property in your own name, or in the name of a corporation, trust or partnership. Sometimes, the way in which you register the ownership of your new property can make it difficult to tell who truly has an interest in that property.

For example, do you:

  • own that property in your own name all by yourself?
  • have any silent partners?
  • have any people who are expecting a benefit from this property?
  • hold this property in trust for someone else?
  • have corporate shareholders who benefit from this property, but aren't disclosed on title?

Recently, the BC Government has become concerned that there are people who have interests in BC land who are not clearly disclosed on the property's title. In an effort to identify what the BC Government calls "indirect interests in land", the BC Government created the Land Owner Transparency Registry.

The Land Owner Transparency Registry is a provincial registry which tracks information about people who have interests in BC land, whether those people show up on title to the property or not. This registry is separate from (and in addition to) the title system run by BC's Land Title and Survey Authority.

Starting November 30, 2020, when you acquire an interest in land in BC which is registered in the provincial Land Title and Survey Authority's records, you must also file additional documentation for the Land Owner Transparency Registry. We will do this on your behalf when we are acting for you.

This law, its regulations and the Registry is brand new, and not all of the details have been worked out yet.

The requirements under this new law, its regulations and the Registry are complex and technical. The information in this blog is NOT legal advice, but merely general information for background purposes. It is crucial that you ask the BC Notary who is working on your file about your specific situation if you have any questions.

Who does this apply to?

Effective November 30, 2020, any application to transfer an interest in land registered with the Land Title and Survey Authority must be accompanied by a declaration (and potentially additional information).

It is important to remember that this requirement applies to every application where someone is acquiring an interest in land, regardless of why, or whether money is exchanging hands.

While we might use the word "buyer" to generically refer to a person who is acquiring an interest in land, there are other reasons why you might be acquiring land, regardless of whether there is any money involved in the transaction.

For example, you have to deal with this issue if you are:

  • buying land from a stranger;
  • adding a new family member on title to your home;
  • adding or removing a family member from title to your home;
  • transmitting property into your name as a surviving joint tenant;
  • receiving the property as a gift from someone else;

Does it matter what you are buying?

Yes. The Land Owner Transparency Act does not apply to all kinds of property.

This Act applies to the following types of property registered within the BC Land Title & Survey Authority System:

  • fee simple estates;
  • life estates;
  • rights to occupy property under a lease with a term of more than 10 years;
  • interests in agreements for sale;
  • any other to-be-prescribed right of ownership;
  • This requirement does NOT apply to:

    • manufactured homes;
    • treaty lands of a Treaty First Nation;
    • certain types of First Nations properties, such as Nisga'a Lands, Nisga'a Fee Simple Lands, Sechelt Lands, reserve lands under the Indian Act (Canada), Maa-nulth lands, Tla'amin Lands, Tsawwassen lands, and other types of to-be-prescribed lands.

    What do you need to do?

    Everyone who is acquiring a qualifying interest in property must file a Transparency Declaration with their application to register the property in their name.

    We will put this Transparency Declaration together for your review and signature when we are acting for you - please note that you will be certifying the information in the declaration, and it is an offence under the law to make a false certification.

    This Declaration discloses whether you are a "reporting body" or not (and if so, what kind). A reporting body is:

    • a relevant corporation;
    • a trustee of a relevant trust;
    • a partner of a relevant partnership;

    If you do not file this Transparency Declaration with your application to register the property in your name, your application will be rejected.

    If you are a reporting body, you must give additional information in a document called a Transparency Report.

    Transparency Reports must include the a significant amount of information about each interest holder, including:

    • names;
    • identification data (including dates of birth, SIN numbers, and residency information);
    • contact information;
    • business numbers;
    • documentation about the trust, corporation or partnership (and the shareholders, trustees or partners of those entities).
    • the status of the interest holder's mental capacity.

    This Registry is retroactive

    If you already own land in the name of a relevant corporation, the trustee of a relevant trust, or a partner of a relevant partnership, you must file a Transparency Report with the Registry, no matter when you acquired the property.

    Confused and baffled?

    That's not surprising. This is a brand new law and Registry, and there are no other similar registries in Canada that can be looked to for guidance. We will walk you through the requirements as they become available. Just make sure to give us lots of time to deal with this issue, especially if you are a reporting body.

    Contact us for more information.