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Letting Agents and Money Laundering Regulations

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New money laundering regulations come into effect on 10 January 2020, bringing certain letting agents (dealing with residential and/or commercial property) within the scope of money laundering legislation.

The Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Regulations 2019 were passed on 20 December 2019. These regulations implement the EU’s Fifth Money Laundering Directive and are due to come into force on 10 January 2020, leaving a very short window for letting agents to understand the Regulations and to implement changes in their businesses.

As a letting agent in England and Wales, if you fall within the following definition, you will need to register with HM Revenue and Customs and comply with existing money laundering regulations which require you to put in place a number of policies, controls, and procedures to anticipate and prevent your business being used by criminals to launder money and fund terrorism from 10 January 2020.

“Letting agent” means a firm or sole practitioner who, or whose employees, carry out letting agency work, when carrying out such work.

“letting agency work” means work:
(a) consisting of things done in response to instructions received from:
(i) a person (a “prospective landlord”) seeking to find another person to whom to let land, or
(ii) a person (a “prospective tenant”) seeking to find land to rent, and

(b) done in a case where an agreement is concluded for the letting of land:
(i) for a term of a month or more, and
(ii) at a rent which during at least part of the term is, or is equivalent to, a monthly rent of 10,000 euros or more.

Estate agents that also do letting agency work (which is caught by the latest regulations) should already be registered with HM Revenue and Customs and will not need to register again; however, you will be required to amend your current registration to include lettings.

As well as bringing certain high value lettings into the scope of the money laundering regulations, the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Regulations 2019 (‘the 2019 Regulations’) amend existing money laundering regulations to ensure that all regulated businesses understand the ownership and control of any company, legal arrangement, or trust structure of the customer. The 2019 Regulations also prescribe mandatory enhanced due diligence measures when a transaction appears to be “high-risk”.

Failure to comply with money laundering regulations can result in civil penalties or criminal prosecution. Senior managers and nominated officers can also be found personally liable for a breach of these regulations.

Here at Simply-Docs we are updating our existing Anti-Money Laundering Documents for Estate Agents (both residential and commercial property) and adding new Anti-Money Laundering Documents for letting agents dealing with high value lets to assist agents in complying with their obligations under the legislation.

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