Prior to COVID-19 consuming the entirety of the daily news cycle, a major focus for property owners in the Province was the anticipated Land Owner Transparency Act (“LOTA”).
As part of the 30-Point Plan for Housing Affordability in British Columbia, this legislation – the first of its kind in North America – was to establish the Land Owner Transparency Registry (“LOTR”): a publically accessible registry to record beneficial ownership rather than the current recording of only legal ownership.
News regarding LOTA has understandably slowed in light of the global focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Land Title and Survey Authority (“LTSA”) has just released its website aimed to provide property owners with the much anticipated details: landtransparency.ca.
Although a significant amount of information confirms details which were previously announced earlier this year, the website does reveal monetary amounts for filing fees and what type of information will be searchable by the public. This resource is especially useful for individuals or companies which are just recently learning about this area of legal reform. Some of the main highlights of LOTA are as follows:
- Mandatory Filings. A transparency declaration must be filed together with the usual application forms to register an interest in land. In the event an application to register an interest is not accompanied by a transparency declaration, the Registrar must refuse the application.
- Exclusions from LOTR. Some types of land, organizations and individuals are not required to be registered in the LOTR including Treaty lands, public corporations, strata corporations, government bodies, charitable trusts, and more.
- Request for Information to be Omitted. An individual may make an application that some or all of their information in the LOTR be withheld from public search if they believe it could threaten the safety or mental or physical health of themselves or a member in their household. However, it remains unknown what exact criteria will need to be demonstrated for a successful application or whether the individual will receive the decision of their application prior to registration. As of today, no appeal process has been revealed.
- Penalties. A person that fails to file the requisite declarations or reports, as applicable, or provides misleading information in same may be liable to a fine of no more than:
- $50,000 for a corporation or $25,000 for an individual; or
- 15% of the assessed value of the property to which the declaration or report relates.
- Timeline. The LOTR was previously slated to launch in late Spring 2020. However, the Province’s legislative calendar has been impacted by Covid-19, which may result in delays.
For questions regarding the LOTR please contact us: