HMRC is responsible for the money laundering supervision of a number of businesses including estate and lettings agents. Estate agency businesses that HMRC is responsible for supervising should be aware of the requirement to register with HMRC and the penalties for not doing so. It is a criminal offence to trade as an estate agency or letting agency business (as defined within the Regulations) without being registered for money laundering supervision.
The following business types are not required to register:
- 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
There are also estate agents who may be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), for example, because they provide consumer finance or hire purchase services. In this situation HMRC and the FCA will consider the possibility of a single supervisor overseeing the anti-money laundering arrangements on a case-by-case basis.