The Government first announced its proposal to introduce a Public Register of Beneficial Ownership of UK Property in 2016. Following an initial consultation in 2016 and a further call for evidence in 2017, the Government has now published its plans to implement the register in the light of the responses to the call for evidence (see here). Draft legislation is intended to follow this Summer, with the register becoming operational in 2021.
The proposal is for a public register held by Companies House showing the beneficial owners of overseas entities that own or want to buy property in the UK.
The definition of ‘beneficial owner’ will be in line with the definition of persons of significant control (PSC) in the existing PSC regime (the regime which obliges UK companies and certain partnerships to create and maintain a register of people with significant control). Under the PSC regime, beneficial ownership means, very broadly, 25% ownership or otherwise exercising significant influence or control.
It is proposed that all legal forms which can hold properties will be within the scope of the new register’s requirements, although it appears that trusts may be excluded given that they are already subject to separate registration requirements.
It is intended to require the same information about the beneficial owners as under the PSC regime (eg name, date of birth, nationality, address etc). Consideration is being given to including protections regarding the publication of residential addresses of named individuals