Scottish land ownership to become more transparent

The Scottish government is introducing a new public register which will offer more transparency on land ownership in Scotland.

A Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in land will be established from 1 April.

The public register will be free to access and managed day to day by the Registers of Scotland.

See also: Tenants’ rights if asked to quit land planned for development 

Information collected on the register will allow individuals to find out who is responsible for the management and use of land and engage with them.

The register will name associates who have influence over the decisions relating to land, as well as details of ownership. This will be particularly useful when the registered owner of land is an overseas entity or trust, which are often difficult to contact, says the Scottish government.

Following a 12-month transition period, penalties will be issued for non-compliance with the register from April 2023 onwards.

Managing director of the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, Doug Bell, said the lack of transparency has been a concern for a long time, so the association is broadly supportive of what the government is trying to do.

Mr Bell said: “We’ve got tenant members who don’t know who their landlords are, due to structures of ownership, and it is very difficult to identify who they should be dealing with.”

Further clarity may be needed in some areas such as where tenants are involved with land owned by family partnerships, according to Mr Bell.

Environment and land reform minister Mairi McAllan said: “The launch of this new register marks a significant milestone in making land ownership in Scotland more transparent.

“I want to ensure that there can no longer be categories of landowner or tenant where, intentionally or otherwise, control of decision-making is obscured, including in or via overseas trusts or entities.”

Jennifer Henderson, keeper of the Registers of Scotland, said: “Registers of Scotland is delighted to have been given the responsibility to establish and maintain the Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land.

“The register will become a valuable source of information and bring greater transparency of who makes decisions about the country’s land and property.”

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