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Plans unveiled for property sector corruption crackdown

In a bid to set the property sector up for success in 2024, the government have pledged to create greater clarity on land ownership with a new consultation.

One of the final government announcements of 2023 included launching a new consultation, which will run for eight weeks, that sets out plans to improve the transparency of trust information within the property sector.

fire burning on the road with high rise buildings during daytime photography

The document outlines proposals to distinguish who owns land held by trusts which, will help pinpoint illicit finance and corruption within property and ‘lift the veil of secrecy’ currently afforded to land-holding trusts.  

As a result, the new plans, will mean that residents, the media, and the general public will be able to research more about who owns land and property, who can control it and who receives financial benefit from it.

‘It matters who really owns land and property. It matters for how and where we build our homes, grow our food and power our country,’ said housing secretary, Michael Gove. ‘Transparency about land ownership is crucial if we want to make our housing and land markets fairer. In its absence, injustices, corruption, and crime can flourish.’

Against this backdrop, the plans announced by the government build on previous attempts that have been put forward by the Conservative party on murky property and land ownership in the UK, particularly in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In 2022 the Register of Overseas Entities was launched to help tackle the problem of ‘dirty money’ in UK property and was widely welcomed upon arrival. However, research since the register was launched has found that the true owners of thousands of properties have remained unknown.

Minster for enterprise, markets and small business Kevin Hollinrake said: ‘There’s no place for fraud and other illegal activity in our society, so it’s fantastic to see the launch of this consultation, which fulfils a government commitment and ensures more is being done to make the trust information held on the Register of Overseas Entities more transparent.

‘The Register of 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.’

Image: Pawel Janiak

More on this topic:

Government introduces protections for renting families and crackdown on rogue landlords

Government unveils ground rent reforms to save money for leaseholders

Emily Whitehouse
Writer and journalist for Newstart Magazine, Social Care Today and Air Quality News.

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