Plan to register offshore UK property owners

2 May 2017

The UK government plans to launch a new register of beneficial owners of overseas companies owning UK property.

First announced in 2016, the register will be administered by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and apply both to existing property ownership and to future acquisitions, with information held by Companies House.

Property investment lawyers who have studied the proposals believe that the register could have ‘a major impact on offshore investors’. Samantha Hook of law firm Howard Kennedy argues that: “Overseas entities will not be able to buy or sell property in the UK unless they have provided information about their beneficial owners for the new register, [although] overseas entities that already own property will be given a transitional year to either disclose the information, or dispose of the property.”

The register will be available for public view on the Companies House website.

Samantha Hook’s view is that this register will come into law unless property investors “can demonstrate that the new disclosure regime is likely to deter legitimate investment in the UK to an unacceptable degree.” She encourages any investors who may be affected by the new register to respond to the government’s call for evidence, using the following website link:

BEIS is considering whether to make it a criminal offence to fail to provide this information, but it appears certain that overseas investors will be unable to deal in UK property unless they do provide it.