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when we want to know who owns a given piece of property, we can consult HM Land Registry.

But suppose we wish to find out what properties are owned by a given person or company? What are the best resorts for these types of information?

I'm thinking of looking into getting a whole official copy of the HMLR dataset and then running some algorithmic analysis to cross index it.

But I'm hoping there is anything more direct? Is this information intended to be accessible or inaccessible or neither per se?

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This is a live political issue. Currently, the various datasets are incomplete and have known accuracy issues. Considering a particular parcel of land:

  • It might not be in the Land Registry at all. About 85% of land in England and Wales is registered, and less in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • Scottish registered land might only appear on the paper "Register of Sasines", as opposed to the more recent electronic database, or potentially in even older county-specific sasine registers.
  • The owner might be a company, partnership, trust, etc., rather than a natural person.
  • The ownership and control of that company (etc.) can be hard to trace. Companies House data is not verified; companies can be incorporated overseas; the trusts register is not publicly searchable; things can be muddled. Raw data might not show that a dozen properties, each owned by a single company that owns nothing else, are in fact ultimately controlled by a particular person of interest.
  • Different people may own the freehold, or a leasehold, or have various other forms of ownership or control. Even a long-term tenancy may be of interest for database purposes.

Because of continuing interest in anti-money laundering, tax evasion, and general accumulation of wealth, there have been plans to have a new "register of beneficial ownership". Such a register would record, for each plot of land, the name of the human beings who actually own and control it in the end. In the anticipated structure, each of those people would have an identifying number, and so we would get your proposed reverse index where you could look up a person and see what they owned.

The register introduced by the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 is the "Register of Overseas Entities" (ROE). However, as the name suggests, it only covers companies/partnerships/etc. from outside the UK. It's operated by Companies House. Overseas entities who have dealt in UK land since 1999/2014/2022 (depending on which part of the UK the land was in) have to list their beneficial owners. Because this is new, it is also not very complete yet: it only went live on 1 August 2022 and no penalties apply until the deadline of 31 January 2023.

In Scotland, the "Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land" (RCI) is meant to do the same but not just for overseas entities. It is live since 1 April 2022 and the initial registration period ends on 1 April 2023, so again it may not be very complete just yet.

There will likely be more political tussle over potential creation of a more extensive UK-wide register. Until that exists, this is a known problem with the extent of current data. You can get a partial view but even that will be frustrating when it comes to the most interesting chunks of property.

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  • Yes of course the ability to own assets through shell entities with varying degrees of anonymity is a contentious political issue. But my question is much narrower than that: suppose we wish to know the owner of 123 evergreen terrace and we purchase the title register from HMLR to find that it is Acme LTD, registered in the Isle of Man or perhaps Cayman Islands. There are all sorts of controversial issues implicated in that whole arrangement. My question however is simply this: suppose we turn around and wish to be Aug 25, 2022 at 23:58
  • able to enumerate all of the real property in a given territorial scope registered owned by the entity of Acme ltd. Is there any possible way of obtaining that information? Aug 25, 2022 at 23:58
  • I mean the concerns about incompleteness don't really bother my question because that's a fact of life even within the layer of the premise so the question is just where do you get answers in the second scenario when you would be able to within the first. Scenarios where the first scenario wouldn't work due to incompleteness of data is thus probably not relevant to the question. Aug 26, 2022 at 6:10
  • The point about raw data not showing correlation of companies with common owners is certainly of interest to my question even if slightly indirectly like as a corollary. Is owner in this context synonymous with director in the sense as used on companies House? I mean what is meant by raw data and is there a clear remedy to this like by combining HMLR dataset with that on companies House? Aug 26, 2022 at 6:12
  • Wow okay major apologies. I have been so underslept this week that I did not even notice the second part of your answer until now, which definitely addresses my question much more clearly to which the earlier portion is now clearly just a foreword. My apologies! Aug 26, 2022 at 6:18

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