News story

Estate agents get guidance to block money laundering

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has published new guidance to help estate agency businesses stay on the right side of Money Laundering Regulations.

HMRC took over supervision of the estate agency businesses on 1 April from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Money Laundering Regulations are designed to protect the UK financial system. Businesses covered by the regulations must put in place controls to prevent them being used for money laundering by criminals and terrorists.

Jenny Ottewell, head of Anti Money Laundering Supervision, HMRC, said:

Our new guidance will help estate agencies decide whether Money Laundering Regulations apply to their business and understand their responsibilities if they do.

Estate agency businesses already registered with the OFT will automatically transfer to HMRC. But businesses that aren’t registered and which should be must apply to HMRC.

As well as estate agency businesses, HMRC supervises six other business sectors under Money Laundering Regulations:

  • Money Service Businesses
  • High Value Dealers
  • Trust or Company Service Providers
  • Accountancy Service Providers
  • Bill Payment Service
  • Telecommunications, Digital and IT Payment Service Providers

Businesses that carry out estate agency work as defined by section 1 of the Estate Agents Act 1979 need to register. This includes:

  • residential and commercial estate agency
  • estate agents who represent either the seller or the buyer (relocation agents/property finding services). This covers estates or interests in land outside the UK.

From 1 April annual fees for registering will be £110 per premises. Businesses renewing their registration will also have to pay this annual flat fee.

Companies that should have been registered but didn’t will be charged fees for each unregistered year and could also face penalty charges.

Find out about the changes to Anti Money Laundering Supervision.