Under B.C.’s Land Owner Transparency Act (LOTA), with limited exceptions, every corporation, partnership and trustee with a registered interest in land in the province will have to file a transparency report by November 30, 2021. LOTA aims to identify the individual interest holders that ultimately own or control land in B.C. and disclose them in a public registry.
Below are some tips to consider for a smooth and successful filing:
1 Start early. The best time to start thinking about your LOTA obligations was yesterday. Reviewing ownership structures, collecting information and preparing transparency reports takes time. With the November 30 deadline rapidly approaching, all businesses should turn their attention to these filings now to avoid potential penalties and fines. Many businesses have already started.
2 Get organized. Identify all registered interests in land (including registered leases with more than 10 years remaining) and the applicable ownership structures up to the individual level. Unless an exemption applies, collect the necessary information from each individual interest holder, including legal name, date of birth, social insurance number, principal residence, citizenship status and a description of the individual’s interest and the date it arose. Contact any co-owners and partners for information on their structures.
3 Assume nothing. LOTA is nuanced, its definitions and operative provisions can be counterintuitive, and its reporting obligations and exemptions do not always apply as expected. Do not assume a “one-size-fits-all” approach: each structure must be carefully reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
4 Keep it going. LOTA imposes ongoing disclosure obligations. Future changes to ownership structures or individual interest holders may necessitate filing another transparency report. New acquisitions of land remain subject to LOTA disclosure on closing, as has been the case since November 30, 2020.
5 Stay informed. LOTA is new legislation and limited interpretive guidance has been provided. The legislation and its regulations may change, and new guidance may be provided as LOTA is implemented. Owners of B.C. property should keep themselves informed as to such changes.