Estate and letting agents are being reminded of their responsibilities when it comes to anti-money laundering (AML) checks and the upcoming GDPR deadline.
The compliance warning comes from tenant referencing provider FCC Paragon, which is also warning agents to consider AML checks in the context of new data protection rules.
Introduced in June, the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive requires agents to carry out due diligence on both buyers and sellers.
Although it was confirmed in March that letting agents would not be required to carry out mandatory AML checks on landlords and tenants, many still do – particularly those operating in London.
Bryn Cole, the Managing Director of FCC Paragon, says: “The average agency will now be making more AML checks than ever before, and it’s vital that they are carrying out the correct procedures and are fully aware of the law.
“Agents have been sanctioned over AML failings in the past and the new Directive requires them to do more work, and so it’s vital that all firms get up to speed, if they haven’t done so already.”
What’s more, FCC Paragon explains that firms that don’t consider their General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) obligations when making anti-money laundering checks could find themselves in “big trouble”.
GDPR, which replaces the current Data Protection Act 1998, comes into force in May 2018.
The new legislation will affect the ways that agents store, process and collect data. Under the new rules, all communications will be required to only include information that the recipient has consented to receive.
Cole adds: “When agents carry out AML checks, they are dealing with extremely personal, sensitive data, and it’s clear that GDPR regulations leave little margin for error on the part of the agent.
“There’s now less than 200 days until GDPR is formally introduced, and that’s why agents need to be planning and strategising continuously between now and May, to make sure their processes are efficient, while remaining compliant.”
We have more information on how the new GDPR will affect landlords and letting agents here.