UK taxman issues new guidance for estate agents re money laundering

 The UK’s tax man has published new guidance to help estate agency businesses stay on the right side of new money laundering regulations.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) took over supervision of the estate agency businesses on 01 April from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). Estate agency businesses already registered with the OFT will automatically transfer to HMRC. But businesses that aren’t registered and which should be must now apply to HMRC. 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. ‘Our new guidance will help estate agencies decide whether Money Laundering Regulations apply to their business and understand their responsibilities if they do,’ said Jenny Ottewell, head of Anti Money Laundering Supervision, HMRC. Businesses that need to register are those that carry out estate agency work as defined in section 1 of the Estate Agents Act 1979. This includes residential and commercial estate agents, and estate agents who represent either the seller or the buyer such as relocation agents and property finding services. Annual fees for registering are £110 per premises, a rise of £36 and companies that should have been registered but didn’t will be charged fees for each unregistered year and could also face penalty charges.