30,000 register as overseas property owners

Some 30,000 foreign property owners have registered with Companies House, in what marks a world first.

The Register of Overseas Entities came into force in the UK on 1 August 2022 and requires anonymous foreign owners of UK property to reveal their real identities.

Companies House said it is continuing to work with overseas company registries and UK land registries to identify entities which have failed to comply with the rules.

Martin Swain, director of intelligence and law enforcement liaison at Companies House, said: “Reaching 30,000 registrations is a significant milestone but also a positive sign that the Register is achieving its objective of enhancing transparency of ownership of land and property in the UK by foreign entities.”

“Our focus remains on continuing to improve the register and rigorously enforcing compliance, so this transparency is maintained and enhanced yet further.

“We will continue to scrutinise information on the Register and will be vigilant in targeting individuals who attempt to avoid transparency. We will also ensure that we are proactively supporting our law enforcement colleagues to disrupt the use of UK property to hide illicit wealth.”

As well as financial penalties, overseas entities which fail to register will find it difficult to sell, lease or raise charges over their land, the government said.

The first penalties were issued in July, while Companies House said it will work with law enforcement to provide intelligence.

Kevin Hollinrake, minister for enterprise, markets and small business, said: “The Register for Overseas Entities is imperative in ensuring we weed out kleptocrats and oligarchs buying up British properties under false names and has already helped identify absent landlords so that they can be held to account.

“There is no place for fraud and other illegal activities in our society, so it is fantastic to see we’ve now had 30,000 registrations on the register, helping us to protect our citizens, business owners and bring criminals operating in the UK to justice.”

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