A compliance specialist is reminding the industry that the deadline by which letting agents must register with HMRC if they are to remain anti-money laundering compliant is fast approaching.
By June 10 any letting agent - residential or commercial - who lets out properties at or above 10,000 Euros per month, or its equivalent currency, will be impacted.
By today’s exchange rates, that is currently £8,600 per month.
Jerry Walters, managing director of FCS Compliance, warns agents that registration goes far beyond simply letting HMRC know of a company’s existence.
“There are clearly defined procedures and documents that need to be put in place well in advance of the deadline and businesses must act now if they are to be ready in time” he insists.
The Fifth Money Laundering Directive which came into effect in January 2020, saw letting agents fall in line with selling agents.
While the onset of Covid saw the deadline for registration pushed back by a further 18 months, letting agents should be compliant today and have been so since January last year.
By the June 10 deadline letting agents must have a comprehensive AML policy and procedure document in place, outlining in detail the AML processes a business adheres to (this includes the undertaking of customer due diligence, and the roles and responsibilities of staff and the legislation that the business operates under); and must have undertaken an Anti-Money Laundering Risk Assessment and ensured that all frontline staff have received a robust level of training applicable to their role within the business.
Walters adds: “Not only does the legislation mean identifying the owner/landlord of the property being let, but tenants come under greater scrutiny too.
“One of the key issues identified in the government’s recently published UK AML National Risk Assessment report was the use of organised crime groups to acquire a property, potentially let it out for criminal activity and launder the proceeds.”
He concludes by saying that agencies not meeting the deadline risk a fine and repetitional damage thought the likely publicity if they are caught.