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Latest Information for Estate Agents and Letting Agents

July 2021

It is being widely reported that estate agents and letting agents are struggling to meet the current anti-money laundering (‘AML’) requirements. 

As a result, there is a heightened threat of action by HM Revenue and Customs, and many agencies are being found to be in breach of the regulations. If you are an agency which is required to be regulated in order to operate, you must be registered with HM Revenue & Customs and you must understand and comply with your obligations set out in AML legislation to avoid being targeted by money launderers and avoid civil and criminal prosecution.

With regulated businesses not implementing the requirements, a greater risk of enforcement action, lack of guidance and more anticipated legislation (see below), this is likely to mean that agents are at greater risk of exposure to money laundering practices. 

The anti-money laundering template documents have now been reviewed and updated with the addition of further information and template clauses to make them more user friendly. 

The anti-money laundering templates are an EXAMPLE ONLY and are intended to be a starting point for you to implement the requirements set out in the legislation and guidance. You must tailor the templates to suit your own business. These templates must be read alongside the relevant money laundering regulations and specific HM Revenue and Customs guidance.

If you are unsure how to edit or adapt these templates in accordance with the relevant legislation and guidance, professional advice should be sought. 

Note that guidance for regulated letting agents is still awaited despite certain letting agents becoming regulated more than a year ago. Guidance from HM Revenue and Customs for estate agents was updated earlier this year.

Legislation has also been made this month which amends the list of high-risk third countries for the purposes of carrying out enhanced due diligence. The legislation can be found here.  

It is anticipated that there will be changes to the anti-money laundering regulations as the UK seeks to diverge from EU law and create its own laws and amend existing legislation. The UK has launched a consultation this month to assess the UK’s anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing regimes. The government is committed to ensuring that the UK’s anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing regime effectively deters money laundering and terrorist financing activity. The government is calling for evidence from property agents on the regimes. Further details of the consultation can be found here.  

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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