China yesterday(Dec.22th) issued rules requiring real estate owners to register their holdings with authorities, a major step in the fight against official corruption that should make it harder for property speculators to evade regulations.
Under a draft of the regulations published in August, a national registration system will be established sharing information such as property location, area and origin of ownership among government departments including police, taxation and audit authorities “in real time.”
Anyone who completes a false registration will have to pay a fine. Any abuse of power, forged document or illegal information disclosure of real estate registration will be prosecuted, the rules said.
Until now, China has had no such registration requirement, an absence that has let some people use property as an opaque vehicle to hide assets from authorities.
The rules, issued by the State Council and taking effect March 1, are a key step in creating a nationwide property database.
“All real estate assets — land, water areas as well as houses, forests and the like — will be subject to this set of rules,” the State Council said in a statement.
“The rules apply to first-time registration, changes of ownership as well as property transfers, write-offs and asset freezing, among other things,” it said.
Officials have said that China needs about three years to fully establish a unified registration system of real estate, and about four years to run a unified registration information management platform, which will support the country’s fiscal and financial reforms.
Industry experts have said that the rules should force corrupt officials to come clean about properties purchased with ill-gotten gains.