Q. I am buying a property and the estate agent has asked me for a copy of my ID and proof of address. I always understood that it was the seller that needs to provide ID not the buyer. Do I really need to comply with this request or is it just an incompetent estate agent requesting documentation that is not a legal requirement?
A. On 1 April 2014 HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) took over from The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and became the supervisor of Estate Agency Businesses under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007. Money Laundering Regulations are designed to protect the UK financial system. Those covered by the regulations must put in place certain controls to prevent their business’s being used for money laundering by criminals and terrorists. These include checking the identity of all customers and keeping all relevant documents. These include carrying out ‘customer due diligence’ measures to check that our customers are who they say they are. Historically sales agents were expected to collect ID from Sellers not buyers and Lettings agents would collect ID from the tenants not the Landlords. However further guidance from regulating bodies advises that agents are duty bound to collect ID and proof of address from both parties of all transactions albeit lettings or sales. Compliance with this is non-negotiable for agents and any other business that handles money and although may be inconvenient is now a legal requirement. So please try to understand that your agent is complying with guidance from HMRC and would very much appreciate co-operation with respect to this matter by supplying the relevant documents when requested.