back to article UK Land Registry opens books on corporate owners

HM Land Registry made its databases of property owned by domestic and foreign businesses free to access yesterday. The "Commercial and Corporate Ownership Data" and "Overseas Companies Ownership Data" sets are now available without charge. HMLR had previously offered access to the latter for fees ranging between £2,000 and £ …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    However ...

    I'm sure one of the tricks the rich use to stay rich, is to have everything "in trust" which is in effect a legal entity.

    Since the requirement to register land only applies when it's transacted, an awful lot of land is held by dint of vellum papers held in local solicitors safes.

    1. Matt Ryan

      Re: However ...

      A trust if not a trick if it's perfectly legal. The beneficiary of the trust doesn't own the assets (that's the trust) so only benefits from any rents, income etc that the trust pays out.

      So for example, the fuss about the Duke of Westminster inheriting £9Bn without any inheritance tax is wrong as he doesn't - it's still owned by the trust.

      He might get some money from it on an on-going basis (let's for argument say 5%) but he'll pay tax on that. The trust also has to pay our 6% of its entire asset value every 10 years in lieu of IHT so it doesn't avoid it. In fact 'we' get money earlier as you don't have to wait for him to die.

      Not quite how it's made out in the media.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: However ...

        You may want to inform The Times of their mistake in placing the Duke on the times richlist.

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Re: However ...

          "their mistake in placing the Duke on the times richlist."

          Being rich is about income more than about assets, and control can be as important if not more than ownership. So I'm sure the Duke will be fine

  2. John G Imrie

    Private Eye

    I wonder how closely this matches Private Eye's map of land ownership?

    1. Juan Inamillion

      Re: Private Eye

      I'd imagine very closely...

    2. Oh Homer
      Childcatcher

      Re: Private Eye

      From the PI article:

      "A recent Freedom of Information request by Christian Aid for the Serious Fraud Office's risk assessment for the BVI was refused on the less than reassuring grounds that releasing it would harm relations with the territory"

      Looks like the British Virgin Islands is now fscked.

    3. JetSetJim Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Private Eye

      Easy to check, the "information about yourself and accept the terms of use" is not that onerous, or even checked. Name, street address (not other details of address required), phone numbers and email address (neither verified) and that gets you the 5MB CSV file.

      There are 99,344 records, and the top 20 companies based on number of titles are:

      WALLACE PROPERTIES LIMITED 2071

      PROFITABLE PLOTS PTE LTD 1205

      SOLARFAIR INVESTMENTS LIMITED 1181

      SALMON REAL ESTATE LIMITED 980

      SALCON POWER (HK) LIMITED 763

      BNP PARIBAS SECURITIES SERVICES TRUST COMPANY (JERSEY) LIMITED 554

      ADRIATIC LAND 2 LIMITED 540

      WESTMINSTER BRIDGE HOLDINGS B.V. 479

      STONEGATE PUB COMPANY LIMITED 478

      ANDERTON ESTATE INVESTMENTS LIMITED 416

      HOMESELECT FINANCE (NO. 3) LIMITED 388

      LIDL UK GMBH 363

      RBC TRUSTEES (CI) LIMITED 359

      LINK HOLDINGS (GIBRALTAR) LIMITED 345

      THE GOVERNOR AND COMPANY OF THE BANK OF IRELAND 334

      FENLAND LIMITED 316

      KLEINWORT BENSON (GUERNSEY) LIMITED 292

      SARUNAS PROPERTIES LIMITED 288

      WINOCA LIMITED 271

      ADRIATIC LAND 3 LIMITED 269

      Intriguingly, there are very few "price paid" records, the top 5 companies have no data at all

  3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    How very useful

    Oxfordshire - owner Reg Corp 1234 Bermuda

    Shropshire - owner Reg Corp 2345 Bermuda

    .....

    .....

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: How very useful

      I had no idea Vulture Central was so big!!!

  4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    The interesting one will be how much land around the UK is owned by the big builders.*

    "Land bank, we have no land bank of site we're sitting on waiting for the local house prices to rise enough to consider building a few. This is wishy washy pinko liberal socialst homosexual fake news put out by the media."

    *Along with how much is owned by foreigners or foreign corporations

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The interesting one will be how much land around the UK is owned by the big builders.*

      They're hardly coy about it.

      Mrs Page and myself were looking at local new builds (which are all shit*, by the way) and every single agent made a point that the developments were being phased over a few years so that the prices "remained stable".

      Confirming that any "housing crisis" in the UK is a manufactured crisis which enables big builders to rack up steady profits.

      *We have a 1,500 sq. ft. bungalow with 3 bedrooms. The biggest 4 bedroom house we saw was 1,200 sq. ft. Our property footprint is 5,000 sq. ft. You could fit 3 new build houses on that. Oh, and you can actually get a real car in our garage, unlike the toy garage with todays new builds.

      (Just for lolz, my US cousin came with us once, and asked the agent where the garage was. When shown it, he just said "so that's another word that's different in Engerland ... in the states we put cars in our garages.")

      1. Sam_B.

        Re: The interesting one will be how much land around the UK is owned by the big builders.*

        In the garages on the recent Wainhomes estates round here, there's dropped floor level relative to the room or passage it has a door into, and a raised brick skirt round the walls which is just the right level to put floor joists on to lay a floor at room/corridor level. I don't know how the rules or finances work, but I can only assume there's some advantage to the builder selling a 2 bed house with garage and the buyer converting it to a 3 bed without, although having the easy conversion may just make them easier to sell

    2. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: The interesting one will be how much land around the UK is owned by the big builders.*

      I expect that the big builders were aware of this coming, and have already put their land bank in a suitably anonymous trust/foreign vehicle to hide the extent of their holdings.

      Remember, it's not just for the profitz that the builders are not building on the land they hold. They bought a crap-ton during the last housing bubble, which is on the books at values that far exceed any real return available. If they were to actually build on the site, they would crystallize their losses, and become insolvent the next time their assets were properly audited.

    3. Peter Galbavy

      Re: The interesting one will be how much land around the UK is owned by the big builders.*

      Each "project" will have it's own limited company or other vehicle - it makes it easier to sell as a single thing too. So, unless you link the Land Registry to an ownership / controlling interest database then it will appear rather like there are thousands of companies who all own a few dozen plots of land waiting for the fat profits to mature.

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: The interesting one will be how much land around the UK is owned by the big builders.*

        It's already 2 years out of date (although perhaps it doesn't churn as often), from the website:

        "Access the free dataset

        The free dataset contains every title registered to an overseas company up to 31 October 2015. This dataset will not be refreshed or updated"

        1. salamamba too

          Re: The interesting one will be how much land around the UK is owned by the big builders.*

          "This dataset will not be refreshed or updated"

          As we charge thousands for the more recent information. Prices are shown lower down on the same page.

  5. Oor Nonny-Muss

    Once again England is conflated with UK

    HMLR doesn't act in Scotland (we have The General Register of Sasines, the oldest national land register in the world) - UK registry?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Re: Once again England is conflated with UK

      Sorry due to the Poison dwarfs rantings, we now no longer class you as part of the UK. Still I presume she still thinks oil is about $120 a barrel and bases her rantings on that.

      Lovely scenery though....

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    May I introduce you to...

    ....the definite article? Which the headline doesn't use.

    HMLR is indeed a UK land registry, just not the only UK land registry.

    1. Joe Werner Silver badge

      Re: May I introduce you to...

      neither does the headline use the indefinite article. To me, as a non-native speaker, this leaves things open to interpretation. It could, to me, mean either "the UK land registry" or simply "a UK land registry"...

      Honest question: is there some sort of rule to leaving out the article?

      1. Julz Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: May I introduce you to...

        It's English, how many rules do you want?

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: May I introduce you to...

          It's English, how many rules do you want?

          Four. And make them contradictory as well please.

          1. JetSetJim Silver badge

            Re: May I introduce you to...

            I always liked the "I before E except after C", and then QI ruined that by saying there are more exceptions to that rule than words that obey it

            1. Sam_B.

              Re: May I introduce you to...

              That is only part of the one we were taught: I before E except after C when the sound is a long E.

        2. VinceH

          Re: May I introduce you to...

          "It's English, how many rules do you want?"

          It's English - there can never be too many rules.

          1. hayzoos

            Re: May I introduce you to...

            And for every rule of proper age there must be one or more exceptions.

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