Letting agency businesses left frustrated with banks misinterpreting AML rules

Letting agents continue to face difficulty maintaining their pooled client accounts from high street banks because they are still misinterpreting anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.

Propertymark says that it is regularly engaging with banks, industry bodies, and government officials on behalf of members who have unnecessarily had accounts closed or restricted as they fall outside of the scope of AML regulations because they do not manage high-value properties with monthly rental incomes of €10,000.

Propertymark letting agent members have reported that banks are asking them to carry out Customer Due Diligence to the level as set out in the Money Laundering Regulations when all letting agents are not legally required to do so.

Propertymark has said that one solution to this is for the UK government to remove the €10,000 monthly rent threshold and set this at zero to create consistency and cover all tenancies let in the private rented sector. Therefore, all letting agents would be required to register with HMRC for Anti-Money Laundering Supervision which would provide banks with the reassurance they need and reduce a barrier that can make it hard for agents to operate.

Banks are also being reminded that rather than making arbitrary decisions they should be referring to updated industry guidance from the Joint Money Laundering Steering Group (JMLSG). This allows them to take into account other regulatory or professional conduct obligations, and the legal requirement for all letting agents to have Client Money Protection (CMP).

As part of their membership of Propertymark, letting agents are required to provide details of valid CMP when joining and again as part of the annual audit process.

Propertymark lobbied for the JMLSG guidance to be improved and is frustrated at the inconsistency for its members because not all banks are following it. The guidance is not legally binding but has HM Treasury approval.

David Oliver, compliance manager for Propertymark, said: “This is a frustrating, time consuming and unnecessary issue for our members especially when the banking industry’s own guidance from the JMLSG is clear that the legal requirement for CMP and our own regulatory rules as a professional body should be enough to satisfy any risk.

“For letting agents, it is simply not feasible to have separate accounts for each of their clients or even necessary if they are Propertymark members because of the protections in place through our compliance process that requires them to provide details of their CMP on an annual basis.

“We are continuing to engage directly with banks, the financial sector and governments and would also encourage any members that have pooled client accounts closed to use the JMLSG guidance and their Propertymark membership to confidently challenge those decisions.”

Propertymark, which offers a range of training courses related to Client Money Protection and Anti-Money Laundering, says one solution is for letting agents to use a Client Accounting Service Provider (CASP), which is a third-party organisation that manages client money on behalf of the agent.



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  1. AgentBen

    Lloyds sent me a letter stating I needed to open a stupid amount of accounts, one for each landlord and that they would close my pooled client account if I did not. I have banked with them for over twenty years including business and personal. The final straw for me was the five days they gave me from the date of the letter to make a decision before they made a decision for me.

    Incredibly frustrating, I am now opening accounts with another bank as Lloyds clearly do not want my money.

    When speaking with the business account manager to close with Lloyds he seemed sick to the teeth as he had, in his words “hundreds” of property professionals complaining to him. I think this will cost Lloyds a lot of clients.

    1. Covlets

      The same happened to me with Lloyds Bank, they said I had to open an account for every landlord that we had on our books. I explained this would not be possible as we would have to open over 200 accounts. Their response was I either open an account for each landlord or they would no longer support banking for my business. I have banked with them for over ten years. They served me with notice that they were closing my accounts and I had to source another bank who would take our business. Massive disruption to my company as I had to contact all our tenants to change their standing orders to the new account details.


  2. Ryan LW

    I was with Barlcays for years and never had trouble with my client account.  Then all of sudden they started threatening to close my account unless I filled in a form, which I had already completed! Luckily Calmony stepped in and saved the day.  It took a  few days to open the account and the switchover was doddle.  It fully integrates with my CRM software, agentOS, making my life easier.

    Calmony isn’t an outsource service it’s just a client account for letting agents. They give you your own ring-fenced client account. It’s so simple and easy.

  3. Chip Wiffler

    This is the new normal for high street banks now; they’ve been providing low cost/free client accounts to agents for years and have to start forcing them in to commercial banking arrangements because the cost of administration around AML auditing is huge.  Digital banking services such as Calmony, or payment automation platforms like LettsPay provide the industry with specifically designed solutions to the challenge that agents face.

    Propertymark already know that the average agents’ problem is NOT finding a CMP provider.  The problem is finding a client account.  The JMLSG has already provided guidance around EMIs which has, loosely, been to let CMP insurers make their own decision as to the suitability of such solutions.

    Meanwhile, agents like AgentBen are faced with short notice periods being given of client account closure; high street banks have significant barriers in place for new applications with absolutely no guarantee of a successful application even if an agent appears to meet their requirements.

  4. KC54

    I had the same scenario with Lloyds back in 2019.  So I quickly moved to another Bank (fortunately I had no overdrafts or borrowings to sort out)  They then contacted me and said because my deposits were insured, I could keep that account with them and when I pointed out I also had CMP insurance on the day to day client account, they said, that I could have kept that one with them as well.  25 years of faultless banking – Too late mate!

    1. AgentBen

      It will be interesting to see how Lloyds react, I am hopefully only a few days away from having set up accounts with a competitor. Between me and my wife we have seven accounts with Lloyds, all of which we will close.

      Again, like you I am fortunate to not have any overdrafts or borrowing at all.

      What to do with my Lloyds shares that are worth pennies on the pounds I paid?

      1. AcornsRNuts

        @ AgentBen and KC54, who is your new bank?  Having the same problem with Lloyds.

        1. KC54

          Metro Bank

        2. AgentBen

          I am in the process of transferring to Barclays. Their website states that they recommend estates agents and property professionals have a pooled account. Reading other comments I am hoping that I am not making a mistake and they are about to do the same.

          1. AcornsRNuts

            Thank you both.

  5. Cyberpunk35

    I think Propertymark should be more transparent about the options that are available to their members and indeed any agent to remedy this. You do not need a Client Accounting Service Provider (CASP), or an expensive third-party organisation that manages client money on behalf of the agent. You could simply go to a provider such as Calmony today and apply for a client account. I had the same issue with Barclays, my Calmony account was open in hours and I can confidently assure my clients that I have an FCA approved client account that won’t be snatched away. 

    1. AgentBen

      My clients account has always had zero charges for having it and zero charges for making payments. By a (very quick) look at their website it looks like they charge a percentage for transfers, does this not cause issues with the account solely having clients money in it? I am unable to find many reviews on them, are they recommended generally?

      1. Cyberpunk35

        Just like lunches, I don’t think there has ever been an entirely free bank account. At some point, you are paying for something. We get a certain amount of transactions included in our monthly fee, anything beyond that has a cost per transaction on the plus side we don’t have BACS costs now. This is all still a lot less hassle and a lot cheaper than the alternative scenarios. As for reviews, they are a relatively new service so I’m sure their review numbers are still growing, but I spoke to two agents that were using them before I signed up and they were both extremely happy. There are some reviews for them on kerfuffle, I should probably get mine on there too. It all seems positive and from personal experience with them over the past few months, I cannot complain. Service and support was incredible.


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