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Just one estate agent has signed up to verify overseas property owners

Just one estate agency has signed up to become a UK-regulated agent to verify overseas entities for property ownership.

The Register of Overseas Entities (ROE) came into force on 1 August 2022, with entities given a six-month transitional period. 

Held by Companies House, the register requires overseas entities that own land or property in the UK to declare their beneficial owners. 
A UK-regulated agent must complete verification checks on all beneficial owners and managing officers of an overseas entity before it can be registered with Companies House. 


Analysis from anti-money laundering (AML) platform Thirdfort, shows 183 firms have registered with Companies House to become UK-regulated agents. Such agents can complete verification checks on beneficial owners of an overseas entity

Of these businesses, just 31 are law firms – or 0.3% of the 9,341 law firms in England and Wales, according to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.

Of the remaining 152 firms registered, 97 are accountancy firms, and only one is an estate agency. The rest are a mixture of business services, company formation, wealth management or other financial services firms.

Harriet Holmes, AML services manager at Thirdfort, said: “We’ve seen a notable increase in the number of overseas entities complying with the new rules. Yet law firms and estate agents remain cautious about verifying these entities. 

“This is no surprise, given the numerous warnings about additional regulatory requirements and the associated risks.  Accountancy firms are now undertaking the lion’s share of verification work and we’ve seen similar warnings, from organisations such as the Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA), about the legal, regulatory and reputational  risks.” 

*This analysis refers to publicly available data on the number of firms registered to become UK-regulated agents to verify overseas entities. Companies House has since clarified that this doesn’t constitute a complete list. There are more than 2000 UK-regulated agents.  


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