New Property Register to introduce ownership transparency

A new property register has been established in Scotland and it came into force on 1 April 2022. The new register is called the Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land (RCI) and it aims to show who has control or a significant influence over the owner or tenant of land and property in Scotland. We should say at the outset, when we refer to a tenant, we mean a tenant in a lease of more than 20 years which has been registered in the Land Register of Scotland or recorded in the General Register of Sasines.

The aim of the legislation that underpins this new register is to introduce transparency into the ownership of land in Scotland where it is not otherwise publicly transparent. This means that once the new register is fully up and running, anyone can carry out a search and find out who has is the controlling party or who has a significant influence over the owner of the property.

The legislation that introduced this new register and its requirements can be found here: The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 (Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land) Regulations 2021. The RCI is free to use and free to search and you can access the RCI by clicking here.

Who does the RCI apply to?

As you might expect, most of the titles to land in Scotland are registered in the name of individuals. These are not affected by the new legislation. Also, where the information as to ownership is publicly available elsewhere, there will be no need to add an entry in this new register.

The RCI does, however, need to be completed when the registered owner and the person who has a controlling interest or can exert significant influence over the owner are not apparent. Some examples are:

  • Where a title is held by a partnership but since the date of registration of the title, new partners have been assumed into the partnership;
  • Where a title is held by a trust, but the trust provisions contain powers enabling a third party to deal with property issues;
  • Where a club or association has a board of management in addition to the trustees who can make decisions in relation to the property.

As you might imagine, this could have significant implications for the committee of the local golf club or social club where the RCI will need to be updated with details of the names and addresses of the new management committee members as well as the removal of those who have stepped down.

Are there any exemptions from the Register?

The Regulations contain a number of exemptions from the RCI. You can find these in Schedule 2.

Whist a full list can be found in Schedule 2, the following are examples of exemptions:

  • Charitable incorporated organisations in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK
  • Building Societies, certain financial institutions, Friendly Societies and Credit Unions
  • Public Authorities
  • Limited companies incorporated in the UK
  • European public limited liability companies
  • Scottish Partnerships and Limited Liability Partnerships

Who must complete the RCI?

The person responsible for providing the information is the “Recorded Person”. That is the individual or entity whose name appears on the Title Sheet of the property in the Land Register or the proprietor shown in the Disposition where the title is recorded in the General Register of Sasines.

The RCI came into force on 1 April 2022. There is a 12-month transitional period. This mean no enforcement action will be taken in the first year.

Anyone who holds a controlling interest or has a significant interest is called an “Associate”. Associates must supply their contact details to the Recorded Person which will then be recorded in the RCI. Any changes of Associates or their details must be recorded in the RCI within 60 days of there being a change.

After 1 April 2023 if the Recorded Person fails to add or maintain the entry in the RCI or if the information is false or misleading, it will be a criminal offence.

Is there more information available?

The Registers of Scotland has a dedicated RCI page which you can read by clicking here. Specific information on whether you need to register an entry in the RCI can be found here.

There is also a video recording of a seminar presentation by Registers of Scotland staff which helps explain the new regulations in some detail. You can access this video by clicking here.

If you have any questions about the RCI or if you would like to discuss making an entry, please contact us.

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