Money Laundering Regulations: Estate Agency Business registration
How to register with HMRC as an Estate Agency Business for anti-money laundering supervision under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007.
The Money Laundering Regulations were introduced to ensure businesses at risk of being used for money laundering by criminals and terrorists have controls in place to minimise the risk of this happening. It’s an offence to trade as an estate agent unless you’re registered with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for anti-money laundering supervision.
HMRC took over supervision of Estate Agency Businesses from the Office of Fair Trading on 1 April 2014.
Who should register
You must register with HMRC if your business carries out any activity defined as estate agency work under Section 1 of the Estate Agents Act 1979.
This means you should register with HMRC if you’re acting in the course of business, and on instructions from a customer who wishes to buy or sell commercial or residential property, and that you are acting to introduce someone who wishes to buy or sell a property to a customer; or acting after such an introduction to secure the sale or purchase of a property, whether in the UK or abroad.
This type of work includes, for example:
- sending out property particulars and arranging viewings
- offering personal advice to potential sellers or buyers
- receiving and fielding queries from potential sellers or buyers and passing on details to customers
- providing an energy performance certificate or arranging for it to be provided
- providing a property valuation
- providing a plan of a property and taking photographs
- providing clients with a ‘For Sale’ board and/or putting it up outside their property where the board contains the Estate Agency Businesses contact details and the business deals with potential buyers on behalf of the seller
The main categories of Estate Agency Businesses that should register are:
- high street residential Estate Agency Businesses
- commercial Estate Agency Businesses
- property or land auctioneers
- land agents
- relocation agents, property finders, private acquisitions specialists
- a sub-agent providing estate agency services to a principal Estate Agency Business
- asset management businesses that also provide estate agency services
- business brokers or transfer agents that broker the sale or transfer of client businesses to third parties
- social housing associations that offer estate agency services
- letting or property management agents that offer estate agency services to landlord customers
- construction companies (house builders) with a sales offices at a construction site, to the extent that they offer additional estate agency services beyond the sale of their own construction units
- in Scotland, a solicitors’ property centre
You don’t need to register if you’re:
- a lettings agent only carrying out lettings work
- an auctioneer already registered with HMRC as a High Value Dealer
- ‘publishing advertisements or disseminating information’, eg in a newspaper
- an intermediary such as an internet property portal for private sales, which merely provide a platform for private sellers to advertise their properties and provide a means for sellers and buyers to contact and communicate with one another - this exemption applies 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
If an Estate Agency Business is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for another purpose, HMRC and the FCA will consider the possibility of a single supervisor overseeing the anti money laundering arrangements for individual businesses on a case by case basis.
If your business is an appointed representative of a firm that is authorised by the FCA, then the FCA will not be your supervisor and you must register with HMRC.
How to register
To register please complete Form MLR100 Application for Registration.
You should post the completed form along with a cheque or postal order for the required fee to HMRC at the address given in ‘Further information’ below.
Please note that HMRC does not accept applications by email.
HMRC will contact you within 45 days of receipt to:
- confirm your registration
- request more information from you
- inform you that HMRC will not be registering you - if your application is declined then HMRC will refund the registration fee
When to register
You must register with HMRC before carrying on any relevant activity as an Estate Agency Business.
From 1 April 2015 the fee structure is changing. The new charges for 2015 and 2016 are listed below:
|Charge Type||1 April 2015||1 April 2016|
|Application charge for
registering for anti-money laundering supervision
for each premises listed on the application.
(this is in addition to the
|£110 for each premises listed on the application
at the time of renewal
Estate Agency Businesses will no longer have a cap of 20 on the number of premises that they pay for.
HMRC charges an annual fee to cover the costs of supervision on a full cost recovery basis. Fees are payable annually in advance, assessed on the number of premises from which a business trades. HMRC sets the fee level each year to cover its costs for the year ahead, aiming to keep these costs as low as possible.
The fee covers:
- registering your business
- producing help, guidance and information for your business
- carrying out checks to make sure you’re doing what you need to do, eg by visiting your premises and working with other agencies such as the National Crime Agency
You can find the fees in the guide ‘Money Laundering Regulations: registration fees’.
If you act as a principal, meaning that you provide services to your customer direct, then you must list all your premises when you apply to register with HMRC and you must pay a fee for each one.
Premises include any location from which the business carries out supervised activity. It may therefore include domestic premises for example the home of a trader if business is carried out there.
However, this does not include storage warehouses, empty premises or registered offices (where those offices are those of a solicitor, accountant or company registration agent, which the business does not trade from).
If you don’t carry on your business from premises and carry on this activity at premises belonging to someone else, then you’ll need to register and pay a fee for your principal contact address. Your principal contact address is the address through which HMRC can contact and arrange to visit you.
You’ll need to notify HMRC of, and pay a fee on, any new premises you add to your registration through the year. The full fee is payable on new premises listed in the first 6 months of the registration year; and half the fee is payable on new premises listed in the second six months of the registration year.
No refunds will be made on premises that are removed from your listing at any time.
When you first apply to register you’ll need to pay your fees by cheque or postal order. The cheque should be made payable to ‘HM Revenue & Customs’.
Once you’re registered, you can pay your renewal fees by:
- cheque or postal order
- BACS quoting your money laundering registration number
- CHAPS quoting your money laundering registration number
There is no need to re-apply for registration at the end of each registration period. HMRC will send you a renewal notice inviting you to renew your registration by paying the annual fee on all your listed premises. If you don’t need your registration to continue then you should notify HMRC.
If you don’t pay the correct renewal fee then HMRC will terminate your registration and remove your business from its anti money laundering register.
You’ll receive a certificate of registration bearing a registration number and confirming the details of the business that you have provided. Please check that all these details are correct.
You must not suggest that registration is an endorsement by HMRC of the business practices of a registered business.
Estate Agency Businesses
HMRC has published guidance for Estate Agency Businesses on how to comply with their obligations under the Money Laundering Regulations and related legislation.
The guidance explains what businesses must do to protect themselves from the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing and how to report suspicious activity.
Failure to register
It’s an offence to carry on relevant business without registering with HMRC as required by the Money Laundering Regulations.
HMRC may impose penalties for failure to register a relevant business. This includes:
- carrying on business as an estate agent without being registered
- carrying on business as an estate agent after your registration has been cancelled
The amount of a penalty will depend on each individual case. HMRC will take into consideration:
- whether you informed HMRC that you’re not registered or HMRC has discovered it
- your reasons for not registering
- whether you have had any previous warning or penalties
HMRC may also take other factors into consideration.
You must inform HMRC if any of your registration details change or are incorrect.
You must do so within 30 days of the change taking place or of discovering the inaccuracy.
To notify a change of registration details or to correct an inaccuracy you should complete Form MLR RCT1.
The changes that you should notify are:
- change of address, trading name, phone number
- change of legal entity
- any new or additional premises
- any premises that you have stopped using for your business
- change in Nominated Officer
- change of franchisee or agency status
- change of business partners
- notification that you wish to cancel your registration, because you no longer carry on relevant business
HMRC may impose penalties if you fail to notify changes within 30 days of the change occurring, unless you have specific agreement from the Customer Operations Team in Southend to a longer period.
HMRC may cancel your registration if there are circumstances that would have given HMRC grounds to decline your registration when you applied to register.
In this event, HMRC will give notice in writing of the following matters:
- the decision to cancel your registration
- the date from which your registration will cease
- the reasons for the decision
- your right to request a review or appeal
You must not carry on that business once either your registration has been cancelled or an application to register has been declined.
HMRC will not refund your fees if your registration is cancelled.
Reviews and appeals
HMRC will inform you in writing to offer you a review of their decision if they decide to:
- impose a penalty
- decline to register an applicant
- cancel an existing registration
Published: 2 April 2014
Updated: 4 September 2015
- References to 'fit and proper fee' have been removed from the table in the 'fees' section.
- Money Laundering Regulations new fee structure and charges from 1 April 2015.
- First published.