Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land: what you need to know

Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land: what you need to know

Land reform can take many guises, and the new Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land (“the Register”) is one that we should all be aware of. This new register aims to increase transparency of land ownership in Scotland by making information on who makes decisions and has control of land available to the public. It comes in to force on 1 April 2022 and all landowners need to consider whether they are affected by the registration requirements.

Who needs to register?

The Regulations will apply to owners of land and tenants of registrable leases (being leases of over 20 years). The owner or tenant whose identity is disclosed in the Land Register or the Register of Sasines is referred to as the “recorded person” and in order to comply with the Regulations they need to provide the Register with their details, a description of the land affected, and full details of the persons who exercise control over that land.

As such, from 1 April 2022, an owner or tenant of a registerable lease will be caught by the Regulations where any person (known as an “associate”) exercises significant control or influence over that land. In practice this means that registration is required where there is:

  • a contractual or other arrangement by the owner/tenant with a person to give that person influence or control over significant decisions in relation to the land;
  • a partnership, including any Scottish partnership where at least one partner is an individual;
  • a trust;
  • an unincorporated association; or
  • an overseas legal entity.

A good example of where registration is required would be where land is owned by a Trust but not all the current trustees are shown on the titles. In that case those trustees not narrated in the titles would need to be disclosed as “associates” under the Register.

There is some good news in that if there is similar information available to the public on another register (for example, under the UK corporate people with significant control (PSC) register held by Companies House) then information is not duplicated in the Register and there is no obligation on the “recorded person” to disclose the relevant details.

What are the consequences of not registering?

It will be a criminal offence not to comply with the duties to provide information in the Register. The maximum penalty is £5000 and applies to most of the offences imposed under the Regulations. There will however be a 12 month transitional period during which owners and tenants in land, and their associates, can provide the required information to the Keeper. This means that the offences for failing to register won’t come into force until 1 April 2023.

The duty to disclose information to the Register will apply to a wide range of landowners and tenants. It is likely to be particularly relevant for estates, farms and other rural properties as ownership is often held in trust or in partnership structures. It is therefore vital for all landowners to consider their position to ensure that they do not fall foul of the Regulations.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Register requirements, please contact Anne Chapman.

A version of this article was originally published in LandBusiness.

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