Estate agents put on red alert for 2023 compliance issues

Emma Burdis, head of compliance at iamproperty, and Louis Lancaster, risk and compliance manager at Credas, have joined forces to highlight the compliance issues that estate agents need to prepare for over the year ahead.

The first is Upfront Material Information (UMI). “Now that UMI is a requirement, it could be transformative for improving the speed and process of transactions, but only if agents are using the right technology to gather the information for them,” the duo insisted.

“Agents are already very pressed for time, so having to gather the additional information themselves is going to add unwanted pressure. If agents aren’t already using technology, it’s good practice to look into it now before parts B and C come into play,” they added.

There’s also the UK Digital Trust Framework by DCMS. “The Home Office and DBS are already using it,” said Burdis and Lancaster. “This year they’re going to be running adoption sprints for the home buying and selling sector and HMRC is going to be involved. This will really help to bring HMRC into the 21st century.”

Offering some tips to help agents succeed at compliance in 2023, Lancaster said: “Firstly, stand your ground when you’re sourcing proof of funds. Estate agents have the legal backing and legitimate purpose to be asking.

“Next, keep a record of everything when enhanced due diligence is needed. HMRC put a lot of emphasis on your risk-based approach, so if you make sure you’re documenting everything you’re doing, then if they see someone did flag as a PEP for example, they can see what you did and why you continued with them.”

Burdis said: “Knowledgeable reporting officers and deputies can make all the difference in helping you to meet your anti-money laundering (AML) obligations. Invest time in training them and be sure to let everyone in your business know who they are and how to contact them.

“Refresh training twice a year and keep your policy up to date, then circulate your policy when changes are made.

“Secondly, a significant number of HMRC penalties in 2021 and 2022 were due to failings to register for HMRC money laundering supervision within in the required time.

“The penalties were in the thousands. If you are not sure if you are registered, or if you should be, visit the website to find out,” Burdis added.


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