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Who owns this land?

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 (LURA) – what does Part 11 mean for you?

LURA came into force in October 2023.  Amongst other things, it allows the UK Government to start requesting certain information from anyone who has an interest or dealings in land.  And be warned: the regulations specifying exactly what you need to tell them may apply retrospectively, so think ahead if there’s a chance your deal will be caught!

Which transactions will be caught?

Although we are waiting for the regulations to provide the details, LURA does give a useful framework.  In short, any information relating to land ownership, that falls within a “permitted purpose” must be submitted.  These are:

  1. Beneficial ownership: the information is needed to help identify who the ultimate owner is, and how they own the land.
  2. Contractual control: the information is needed to help identify who holds rights under a contract relating to the development, use or disposal of land.
  3. National security: the information relates to land which might carry a threat to national security because of where it is, or what happens on the land.

It is to be confirmed, but The Land Registry is likely to be the entity that is used to collect this information from landowners, and they’re likely to charge a fee to do so.

What will I need to provide?

It’s not clear yet which party to the transaction: buyer or seller, landlord or tenant or both, will be required to send in the information.  It’s equally not clear what exactly you will need to provide, but at this stage, it looks like you will be required to send in “transactional information” which will include:

  1. Details of the parties involved in the transaction and anyone on whose behalf they are acting,
  2. Details of any professional advisors involved,
  3. The source of any funds used,
  4. The terms of the transaction, and
  5. Copies of particular documents.

The information goes a step beyond what the Land Registry currently need on registration applications, especially item 3 (source of funds) which is new, and something that has historically been a private matter, save for the needs of the parties’ professional advisers complying with their anti-money laundering obligations.   Government’s instincts to collect more and more data (before they necessarily know what they will do with it) and the discretion of the Minister to make regulations, may mean that this becomes a disproportionate administrative burden and also an intrusion into areas that in England and Wales have traditionally been confidential.

What happens if I don’t send the information to the Government?

It’s unclear exactly what the penalties will be, but LURA does allow for criminal prosecution.  Also, the Land Registry may refuse to register your transfer or lease without confirmation that you’ve provided what you need to.

So what now?

LURA potentially casts its net widely.  So, if there’s anything but complete clarity over who the ultimate owner of the land you’re dealing in is or will be, or if there may be a national security interest in the land, get prepared.  You may need to consider:

  1. Making completion of your deal conditional on the other side helping you to pull the information together that you need to make a submission.  Or on making the submission themselves by a particular date.
  2. Making sure that your agreement to sell or lease requires the other side to assist you to comply, or to comply themselves, following completion of your deal.
  3. If you’re a landlord, making any licence to assign or underlet conditional on compliance with the new requirements.

If you think you may need to consider the new requirements, our Commercial Property team would be happy to advise you on how you can prepare yourself now, and get ahead of the game.


Article Contributor, Bethan Chant, Graduate Apprentice Solicitor