Scotland confirms 2022 start for land ownership transparency register

Out-Law News | 18 Feb 2021 | 1:51 pm | 1 min. read

Scotland's new register of those who hold a controlling interest in land will take effect from 1 April 2022, the Scottish government has confirmed.

The Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land (RCI) will be maintained by the Registers of Scotland, and will be free to access. The new register is intended to increase transparency around land ownership in Scotland by making it easier for the public to identify those with such interests where they are not registered or recorded as the owner of the land, including where the owner of the land is a trust or a partnership.

Oliphant Rachel

Rachel Oliphant

Senior Practice Development Lawyer

Property owners need to take these regulations seriously, because failure to comply will be a criminal offence

Property law experts at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, have been working with the Registers of Scotland on compliance with the new regime.

Alan Cook of Pinsent Masons said: "The planned register is a completely new initiative, which will operate over and above the transparency requirements imposed by the UK government on companies and other entities. It imposes additional compliance responsibilities on certain categories of property owners in Scotland".

"We are pleased to see that those subject to the UK's Persons of Significant Control (PSC) Regulations are exempt from the requirement to register in the RCI, avoiding any double reporting requirements. Those entities which will be affected include trusts, overseas companies and certain types of partnership," he said.

The Scottish government was granted powers to create the register under the 2016 Land Reform (Scotland) Act, and consulted on draft regulations in 2018. The final regulations, which have now been approved by MSPs, confirm the exemption from the reporting requirements for those already subject to the PSC regime. The planned six month transitional period, after which criminal penalties would apply to those who fail to register, has been extended to 12 months.

Rachel Oliphant of Pinsent Masons said: "Property owners need to take these regulations seriously, because failure to comply will be a criminal offence".

"We are pleased that there will be a one-year grace period before any penalties will be imposed, to give property owners time to comply. The Scottish government has told us that there will also be an awareness-raising campaign before the regulations take effect," she said.