British Columbia has introduced a new registry that aims to help expose and stop illegal funds in the province's housing market.
Effective since November 30, when a corporation, trustee or partner purchases land in BC, they are now required to disclose the interest holders of that land with the Land Owner Transparency Registry.
Within a year of that date, all reporting bodies that are corporations, trustees or partners that have an interest in land as of November 30 will also be required to disclose their interest holders.
The provincial government will review the effectiveness of the registry going forward; improvements will be made if required.
“British Columbians expect that when they buy a home, they are entering a housing market based on fairness. But for decades, that didn’t happen when they were in competition with fraudsters flush with illicit cash,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance, in a release.
“This first-of-its-kind registry will help return transparency and moderation to housing markets throughout B.C.”
Requiring land-ownership disclosure of all land types and applying to land owned by corporations, partners, and trustees (unless specifically excluded by the legislation), the registry is the first quite like it in the world. The announcement of its inception begs the question: Is the Ford government watching?
In its report, the Expert Panel on Real Estate said the disclosure of beneficial ownership is the “single most important measure” that can be taken to address money laundering. The information provided to B.C. officials through the new registry will help improve transparency in the province's housing market, and it may be used by tax and law authorities to investigate illegal activity.
Ultimately, the new implementation will help help prevent money laundering and boost confidence in the housing sector.
“B.C. is taking the necessary steps to prevent money laundering, including our panel’s key recommendation to implement a publicly assessible [sic] Land Owner Transparency Registry,” said Maureen Maloney, chair, Expert Panel on Combatting Money Laundering in Real Estate.
“These measures mean that B.C. homebuyers and investors can continue to trust the housing sector, which is an important pillar towards a stable economy.”
As the west coast sets a precedent, provinces across the country -- namely, Ontario -- should take note. Criminal money is a problem here too, exacerbating the affordability crisis in our housing market.