The HMRC’s long-awaited online register for letting agents to register their anti-money laundering activities has opened - almost six months after the regulations came into effect.
The Money Laundering Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Regulations 2019 came into force at New year but IT issues meant that HMRC’s online register for letting agents became operational only in recent days.
Guidance from ARLA Propertymark says that all firms and individuals in the UK who meet the definition of letting agency activity and the rent threshold which is equivalent to or more than 10,000 euros per month for the duration of at least one month - per property, not per landlord - must register.
Similar regulations have applied to sales agents for some years but those who are already registered with HMRC in that sales capacity will need to let the Revenue know of their lettings activities as well, if appropriate.
As a result of the IT delays, lettings agencies must ensure they have applied to HMRC for supervision before January 10 2021 - so just over seven months from now.
Guidance from ARLA Propertymark says that agencies should register if they:
- act on instructions from a customer who wants to buy, sell or let an interest in land, in the UK or abroad, and introduce your customer to a third party who wants to buy, sell or let an interest in land;
- act after such an introduction to secure the sale or purchase of the interest in land.
The types of business that must register are:
- High Street residential estate and letting agencies;
- commercial estate agencies and letting agencies;
- online estate agencies and letting agencies;
- property or land auctioneers;
- land agents;
- relocation agents, property finders, private acquisitions specialists;
- a sub-agent providing estate agency services to a main estate agency business;
- asset management businesses that also provide estate agency or letting agency services;
- business brokers or transfer agents brokering the sales or transfer of client businesses to third parties;
- social housing associations that offer estate agency or letting agency services;
- letting or property management agents that offer estate agency services to landlord customers;
- construction companies (residential property builders) with a sales office on-site, where they act or offer additional estate agency or letting agency services other than the sale of their own construction properties;
- a solicitor’s property centre in Scotland.
An agency will not need to register if it is:
- a lettings agent only carrying out lettings work not defined within the regulations, for example, below 10,000 euros per month;
- an auctioneer already registered with HMRC as a high-value dealer;
- publishing adverts or distributing information, for example in a newspaper;
- an intermediary, like an internet property portal for private sales, allowing private sellers to advertise their properties and letting sellers and buyers to contact each other (but only if you do nothing else covered by the general definition of estate agency work);
- a solicitor carrying on estate agency work as part of that practice as a solicitor, and not as a separate business.