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Money Laundering registration now open for letting agencies

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Registration for UK letting agencies is now open with Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) who are the supervisory body for the property sector.

Despite the Money Laundering Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Regulations 2019 coming into force in January, due to an IT system update HMRC’s online register for letting agents has only just been made operational.  

All letting agents in the UK who meet the definition of letting agency activity and the rent threshold which is equivalent to or more than 10,000 euros per month for the duration of at least one month (per property, not per landlord), must register with HMRC and follow the anti-money laundering regulations.

Estate agencies who are already registered with HMRC but undertake activity as a letting agency will need to inform them of this using the online application process.

Register with HMRC

It is a criminal offence to trade as a letting agency or an estate agency business within the regulated sector without being registered with HMRC for money laundering supervision. Employees of letting or estate agents who carry out relevant work are not individually supervised by HMRC. Employers are responsible for registering and complying with the Regulations.

Letting agency businesses must ensure they have applied to HMRC for supervision before 10 January 2021 for approval under the new rules.

Leading personnel in an agency must pass the relevant approval checks before their business can register (and remain registered) with HMRC. Registration is a legal requirement to trade, it is not a recommendation or endorsement of the business.

THE SCOPE

Agencies should register if they:

  • act on instructions from a customer who wants to buy, sell or let an interest in land, in the UK or abroad, and introduce your customer to a third party who wants to buy, sell or let an interest in land
  • act after such an introduction to secure the sale or purchase of the interest in land

The types of business that must register are:

  • high street residential estate agencies and letting agencies
  • commercial estate agencies and letting agencies
  • online estate agencies and letting agencies
  • property or land auctioneers
  • land agents
  • relocation agents, property finders, private acquisitions specialists
  • a sub-agent providing estate agency services to a main estate agency business
  • asset management businesses that also provide estate agency or letting agency services
  • business brokers or transfer agents brokering the sales or transfer of client businesses to third parties
  • social housing associations that offer estate agency or letting agency services
  • letting or property management agents that offer estate agency services to landlord customers
  • construction companies (residential property builders) with a sales office on-site, where they act or offer additional estate agency or letting agency services other than the sale of their own construction properties
  • a solicitor’s property centre in Scotland

An agency will not need to register if they’re:

  • a lettings agent only carrying out lettings work not defined within the Regulations, for example, below 10,000 euros per month
  • an auctioneer already registered with HMRC as a high-value dealer
  • publishing adverts or distributing information, for example in a newspaper
  • an intermediary, like an internet property portal for private sales, allowing private sellers to advertise their properties and letting sellers and buyers to contact each other (but only if you do nothing else covered by the general definition of estate agency work)
  • a solicitor carrying on estate agency work as part of that practice as a solicitor, and not as a separate business

Register

PROPERTYMARK RESOURCES

To help members comply with the Fifth Money Laundering Directive, Propertymark has useful resources.

Login to the member area on the NAEA Propertymark website below to access.

Member area