If you are an overseas company owning UK property, you need to be aware of a new public register.
The Government is proposing to establish a public register which records information about the beneficial ownership of overseas entities that own UK property.
Who will it apply to?
This will apply to all overseas legal entities able to hold property. This will also include, but not limited to non-UK incorporated companies and non-UK resident trusts. Furthermore, there is currently no proposal for any entities to be exempt.
A beneficial owner means the ultimate owner or controller of an overseas entity and the assets it holds. The proposal is that the definition of a beneficial owner should mirror the approach taken in the PSC register which applies to filing in relation to ownership of all UK companies.
What property is included?
Property includes tenancies under long leases with an original term of more than 21 years, as well as freehold property. You will therefore appreciate that the scope of this register could be extensive.
What information is required?
An overseas entity that owns or wishes to acquire UK property will need to provide information about itself and its beneficial ownership to Companies House and apply for a registration number. Existing overseas property owners will have 12 months in which to comply with these new rules.
The information about the beneficial owner will include:
- their name;
- date of birth;
- service address, country or state of residence;
- the nature of their control; and
- the date the control was acquired.
Likewise in the case of trustees, they may be required to disclose details of settlors, trustees or beneficiaries. However, there may be some protection to allow individuals to apply to have their information kept private in limited instances. It is proposed that the information in the register should be updated at least every two years.
It is proposed that it would be a criminal offence to provide false or misleading information when applying to register, and similar provisions will apply to the failure to comply with the regulations.
There are several details still to be finalised. Consequently, we have yet to find out their timetable for implementation. But overseas property owners should be aware of these proposals when considering current property ownership and future acquisitions.