Updated guidance on anti-money laundering has been issued by HMRC to estate agents.
It rounds up the various laws that estate agents have to comply with.
It also heads off an argument long advanced by sales agents that they do not handle money.
The new advice says that while this may be so, estate agents have knowledge of both sides of a transaction and how a purchase is funded.
Agents that take deposits, including auctioneers, do handle money.
The new advice spells out the policies, controls and procedures that agents must put in place, and says agents must “devote enough resources to deal with money laundering and terrorist financing”.
The advice also deals with risks where there are non-face to face customers, and where agents accept introductions from another agent, as in cases of sub-agency.
The guidance also spells out the relationship with the ‘counterparty’ – ie, the buyer, who is not the customer of the sales agent, or a seller who is not the customer of a relocation agent or property finder.
The advice was first issued five years ago, and was updated yesterday.
It is long at 71 pages, but essential reading.
Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, said: “This guidance follows the Fourth Money Laundering Directive that was published in June 2017, and provides clarification on a number of areas that agents will need to familiarise themselves with.
“Propertymark has planned a series events in May and June across the country for members that they will find helpful in understanding the new guidance.”