If you have ever wondered if that flat above you or that house next door is owned by some suspicious offshore company or trust you can now find it out in seconds thanks to Private Eye and OpenStreetMap.
All you have to do is click on this link to a map of the UK on Private Eye’s website and you can zoom in to find out if any offshore companies etc own any particular property in England and Wales. You’ll soon find out if your neighbour is really a trust or corporation in some faraway tax haven or whether your competitor really owns the freehold or leasehold to that property you have coveted for years.
The map provides data on all leasehold and freehold interests acquired by offshore companies etc between 2005 and 2014. The data includes the address of the property, the name of the proprietor, the country the title is registered in, the price paid for the property and the property title number.
It gives a fascinating overview of just how much property is owned by offshore companies etc in any part of England and Wales you care to look at. No doubt there are many secrets hidden in this map which may feature in the news over the next year or so (particularly after the laws relating to British company beneficial ownership disclosures come into force next year).
It’s well worth a quick look see even if you haven’t any particular property in mind that you want to look up. The sheer extent of foreign ownership of properties in London makes one wonder why London isn’t called Moscow-on-Thames!
This article was first published on 4th September 2015 and updated on 11th September 2015.