The Government has announced the introduction of a new register of retail landlords.

In an effort to boost commercial leases within high street retail, the register is intended to speed up the leasing process by making it easier for prospective tenants to identify owners of high street properties.

According to research by Estates Gazette looking at 22 main shopping streets in 11 UK cities, nine different categories of ownership exist.

Over 20% of properties were owned by property investment trusts, 17% by overseas investors and only 5% by retail and leisure occupiers. Other owners included public sector owners, private individuals, pension funds, and banking or insurance institutions.

Experts are warning the current ‘patchwork’ system of ownership makes it difficult to find out who owns retail property, which is putting potential tenants off leasing retail space in town centres.

The British Property Federation, which represents UK residential and commercial real estate companies, says the current approach is stalling long-term regeneration and redevelopment efforts, as it is difficult to get landlords to work together on a town centre project.

2019 has been challenging as a whole for UK high street retailers, most recently with the collapse of national chains such as Debenhams and Select.

The ownership register is the latest government initiative to try to attract investment into the high street. In addition to offering relief on business rates, high street minister Jake Berry has also said the government was “working to enhance powers of local authorities to proceed with compulsory purchase orders to end fragmented ownership”.

Pilot schemes for the ownership register will be run in certain local authorities. If successful, the register will be rolled out to high streets across the UK.

As Editor of Lawble, Gill helps business and individuals become better informed about their legal rights. Gill is a content specialist in the fields of law, tax and human resources.