Russian-owned property under spotlight as new law brought forward

Russian-owned property under spotlight as new law brought forward

The government’s crackdown on foreign-owned property in the UK has been brought forward after the business minister unveiled new plans in the wake of the furore surrounding the high-value London homes owned by the Russian elite.
[crb_image link=”” image=”” align=”left”]

Of the roughly 97,000 UK properties currently owned by foreign-registered firms, around £33.9bn worth is based in London, and an estimated £1.1bn of that is owned by prominent Russian figures who have ties to Putin and his regime. This statistic has come to light in the wake of the recent Salisbury poisoning, which has been attributed to the Kremlin by Theresa May, and the government has now announced that new draft laws will be set out as early as the start of the next parliamentary session.

The new laws will mean foreign companies must be transparent about who ultimately owns their properties – and the frontmen of those companies who fail to comply could face up to two years in jail and unlimited fines. It will target all foreign-owned property, not just that owned by Russian investors, as part of the global fight against corruption and preventing laundered money from being “hidden” in the UK’s real estate market.

Theresa May’s proposed anti-corruption measures came under added pressure earlier this year after it emerged that a huge amount of UK properties were owned by companies that were based in the British Virgin Islands, which sparked major concerns around tax avoidance and saw the prime minister promise to bring in a compulsory register in 2021.

Seize their assets

Last month, the country’s first “unexplained wealth order” (UWO) was served against an Asian politician who owned £22m worth of property in London. The new UWOs are to be employed to investigate the origins of money used to purchase all UK properties where financial sources are unclear, and Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has called for more UWOs to be deployed to add pressure.

Cable added: “The prime minister must demand these [Russian] oligarchs, who surely must be considered politically exposed persons, explain in writing, with detailed documentation, just how they obtained their fortunes.

“If the answers are not forthcoming or are unsatisfactory, then authorities must seize their assets as a matter of urgency.”

Of course, only a minority of foreign-owned properties will have been acquired through corrupt or untraceable funds, but those that have will be seized under the new rules. This is likely to act as a major deterrent to future purchases of top-end property in London by such overseas investors, which could have a major impact on this sector of the property market in the future – potentially improving pricing and availability for UK-based buyers.

Self-certified Sophisticated Investor

Please read

I declare that I am a self-certified sophisticated investor for the purposes of the restriction on promotion of non-mainstream pooled investments. I understand that this means:

I am a self-certified sophisticated investor because at least one of the following applies:

I accept that the investments to which the promotions will relate may expose me to a significant risk of losing all of the money or other property invested. I am aware that it is open to me seek advice from someone who specialises in advising on non-mainstream pooled investments.

High Net Worth Investor

Please read

I make this statement so that I can receive promotional communications which are exempt from the restriction on promotion of non-mainstream pooled investments. The exemption relates to certified high net worth investors and I declare that I qualify as such because at least one of the following applies to me:


Sign up for first access to new developments and exclusive property investment opportunities.

We send limited and targeted emails on new launches and exclusive deals which best fit your areas. We are trusted by over 30,000 active buyers as their source for new stock.

  • New property developments
  • Professional market reports
  • Property deal alerts
  • Development updates
Manchester property investment


Receive trending news straight to your inbox and stay up to date on all of the property market trends and advice.

Established since 2005 we are a leading voice of authority and commentary on the UK property market. Our news is trusted by Apple News & Google News.

  • UK housing market
  • Mortgage & money
  • Buy-to-let landlords
  • Guides & advice

Talk to us

Speak to our UK property experts today:


+44 (0) 333 123 0320

Open from 9am-6pm GMT


+852 6699 9008

Open from 9am-6pm HKT