16 August 2021
Landowners take note: 3 month deadline to file landowner transparency report (LOTR) and avoid penalty
Relevant corporations, trustees of relevant trusts, and partners of relevant partnerships which have an interest in land are required to file a transparency report under the Land Owner Transparency Act (“LOTA”) by November 30, 2021.
Failure to do so could result in significant fines being levied against the corporation or other entity. The following summarizes the LOTA requirements including what reporting bodies with an interest in land must do prior to the upcoming deadline.
What is the Land Owner Transparency Registry (“LOTR”)?
The LOTR is a searchable registry that maintains information about “interest holders” under LOTA. These interest holders are individuals who do not have direct ownership of land but are considered to have some beneficial or indirect ownership interest in it.
What is the purpose of the LOTR?
BC introduced a comprehensive plan in the 2018 budget to address broad concerns about housing affordability and money laundering in BC. In its 30-point plan for housing affordability in BC, the government stated it is “taking action to end hidden ownership” in order to crack down on tax fraud and close loopholes.
Who is required to take action by November 30, 2021?
Corporations, trusts, and partnership which are on title as the legal owner of land in British Columbia.
When are reporting bodies required to file?
Transparency reports have been required on transfers of land since November 30, 2020. Existing reporting bodies with an interest in land need to file a LOTR by November 30, 2021.
What are the LOTR filing requirements?
Any time an application is made to register or transfer an interest in land under the Land Title Act, a transparency declaration must be filed so as to declare:
- whether or not the transferee is a reporting body
- if the transferee is a reporting body, whether or not the reporting body is a relevant corporation, a trustee of a relevant trust, or a partner of a relevant partnership
If an application is made to register an interest in land in the name of a relevant corporation, a trustee of a relevant trust, or a partner of a relevant partnership, a transparency report must also be submitted to the Registrar of Land Titles, together with the application to register the interest in that land. The Registrar of Land Titles is required to refuse to accept an application to register an interest in land if the transferee does not submit a transparency declaration or if a reporting body does not submit a transparency report.
What is a reporting body?
A reporting body is a relevant corporation, a trustee of a relevant trust, or a partner of a relevant partnership that is required to file a transparency report under LOTA.
Who are interest holders?
LOTA defines interest holders as a beneficial owner of a relevant trust, a corporate interest holder of a relevant corporation, or a partnership interest holder of a relevant partnership.
What information will be collected about reporting bodies?
Depending on if the interest is held by a corporation, partnership, or trust, the following information will be collected relevant to that structure:
For corporations and limited companies:
- The corporation’s or company’s name and registered office address and head office address
- The jurisdiction in which it was incorporated, organized, or formed
- If the corporation or company has been continued or transferred into another jurisdiction, the jurisdiction into which the corporation or company was most recently continued or transferred
- The individual’s full name
- Whether the individual is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada
- If the individual is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada, every country or state in which the individual is a citizen
- If the individual’s principal residence is in Canada, the city and province in which that principal residence is located
- If the individual’s principal residence is outside Canada, the city and country in which that principal residence is located
For relevant partnerships:
- The partnership’s registered business name
- The type of partnership (e.g. general partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, professional partnership, foreign partnership, or a legal relationship created in another jurisdiction that is similar to any of these types of partnerships)
- The partnership’s registered address or head office address
- The address of the partnership’s principal business premises
- The jurisdiction in which the laws govern the partnership
- If the partnership has a partnership agreement, the interpretation of the partnership agreement
What information will be collected about interest holders?
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Social insurance number
- Tax number
- Location of principal residence and last known address
- The date on which one became or ceased to be an interest holder and the nature of the individual’s interest in the reporting body
- Whether the interest holder is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada, or neither
Can an interest holder apply to have their personal information omitted?
Interest holders’ personal information will not be publicly disclosed for a period of 90 days after a transparency report is filed. Within this 90 day period, individuals may request that some or all of the individual’s primary identification be omitted or obscured from the public record if the health, safety, or mental health of the individual is at risk.
Who can access the information in LOTR?
Since April 30, 2021, the public can search and obtain partial information about ownership interests in land. Some information such as birth dates and social insurance numbers are not publicly accessible. Only those defined as a regulator, a taxing authority, or a law enforcement entity may access complete information about reporting bodies and interest holders.
Who is enforcing compliance and what are the penalties?
The Province enforces compliance with the declaration and reporting requirements outlined in LOTA. A reporting body that fails to file a transparency report or provides false or misleading information in a transparency report may be subject to a fine of not more than the greater of:
- $50,000 for a corporation or other entity, or $25,000 for an individual; or
- 15% of the assessed value of the property to which the transparency declaration or transparency report relates.
Other offenses under LOTA may be subject to a fine of up to $100,000 for corporations or other entities, or $50,000 for individuals.
If you have questions regarding LOTA, please contact a member of our Business Law Group.
Arthur Cullinan is an Associate in the Business Law Group at Watson Goepel LLP.