New land ownership register

Road running through hills with loch at rear
Lisa Paton

Communities and individuals will soon have access to information to enable them to find out who has a controlling interest in Scotland’s land.

As part of its long running commitment to improve transparency of land ownership, the Scottish Government is introducing a new Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest (RCI) in land on 1 April 2022.

This public register provides key information about those who ultimately make decisions about the management or use of land, even if they are not necessarily registered as the owner, including overseas entities and trusts.

The information will enable individuals and communities to identify and engage with those who make decisions about land that affects them.

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.

“Scotland has a long history of land reform and this journey to make the ownership and use of our land and assets fairer marches on.

“The new register will make Scotland a frontrunner in Europe and deliver greater transparency than any other part of the UK. It enables the public to look behind land ownership and identify those who ultimately make decisions.

“We have committed to bring forward a new Land Reform Bill over the course of this parliament which will further tackle Scotland’s historically iniquitous patterns of land ownership and use.”  

Keeper of the Registers of Scotland Jennifer Henderson said:  

“Registers of Scotland are 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.

“It will deliver valuable insight to citizens and communities across Scotland.”

The Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land (RCI) has been developed and maintained by The Registers of Scotland, will be operational from 1 April 2022 and free to access.

The RCI is a register of persons who own, or are tenants of (under a long lease of more than 20 years), land, including entities with legal personality. Entries flow from the recorded person, who is obliged to disclose persons who have significant influence or control over decisions in relation to land, known as associates.

Penalties for non-compliance will come into force at the end of a 12 month transition period in April 2023.

The Scottish Government fully supports any measures to improve transparency of land ownership, including the Register of Overseas Entities (ROE) to be introduced by the UK Government’s Economic Crime Act 2022.   ROE will apply to any legal entity that is governed by the law of a country other than the UK, but which owns land in the UK.  Whilst the purpose of the RCI focuses on transparency of land ownership, the ROE aims to combat illegal activities such as money laundering by increasing transparency about the beneficial owners of land.