Estate agents have been warned that underestimating their legal obligations when it comes to anti-money laundering (AML) could see an increase in the number of fines handed out by the authorities.
Identity verification app Credas says that alongside the recent introduction of GDPR and the ongoing tightening of anti-money laundering regulations, 2018 will continue to be a challenging year for agents.
Research carried out by the PropTech firm found that almost a third of 100 agents it surveyed weren't sure if their company had an AML process in place.
Just shy of 40% said their business didn't have an AML officer and 19% weren't sure if there was an AML officer within the company.
Less than a fifth of participants said they understood AML regulations comprehensively, while 4% said they know nothing at all about them.
"These statistics are concerning - anti-money laundering non-compliance is a very serious issue for estate agents, with the average fine being £12,000 and sometimes much higher," says Rhys David, chief executive of Credas.
"More work has to be done by the HMRC and the industry itself to educate agents at all levels on the legislation and its parameters," he says.
Credas also calls on research from last year which suggests that almost a fifth of estate agents have been fined for AML breaches, a third of which were fined between £15,000 and £25,000.
David says it's more important than ever for agents to double check that they would pass an HMRC investigation.