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Combatting Money Laundering
New and detailed amended rules to combat money laundering are in force
As a result professional advisers must ask more questions and in some cases require more information and documentation from clients before they can accept instructions to act or advise.
We will need to ask for more information in connection with acting for companies, partnerships, trusts, other bodies of people (such as clubs) and anyone who is acting as agent for another person. We may also need to go through the identification and verification procedures for shareholders, directors, managers, partners, trustees, beneficiaries, club members, anyone acting under a power of attorney, a receiver, administrator or insolvency practitioner or anyone appointed as an agent or broker of any kind.
In addition, the exemption under the old rules for existing clients from the procedures for identification and verification has been removed.
As a matter of policy we operate the new rules in relation to all clients and all matters.
All we ask is that you attend at our offices with
- your passport or picture driving licence
- an original council tax, gas or electricity bill addressed to you and dated within the last three months
For Data Protection Act purposes, we must also advise you that we are required to retain this information for at least five years.
Improving the Home Buying and Selling Process – April 2018
The Government’s plan of action
1. Buying and selling a home is acknowledged to be one of the most stressful events a person will experience, often considered alongside other major life changes such as marriage, divorce or having a child.
2. We believe that improving consumer understanding of the process and making it more transparent are key to improving the experience.
3. Further Estate Agent Regulation: Estate agents are currently regulated through the Estate Agents Act 1979 and enforced by a small national enforcement team, the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team. They have the power to issue warnings and banning orders to rogue agents, and approve customer redress schemes. There is currently no minimum professional standard requirement in order to operate as an estate agent, unlike our plans for letting agents. We believe that introducing a requirement to hold a professional qualification backed up with a programme of Continuing Professional Development would professionalise the industry, improve service and reassure consumers. This builds on our consultation to strengthen consumer redress in the housing sector. We will:
• work with the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team to strengthen enforcement of the existing regulatory framework for estate agents with a focus on ensuring all agents comply with consumer protection regulations;
• launch a consultation on creating a mandatory professional qualification for estate agents following engagement with industry and regulators; and
• post-consultation, evaluate the responses and consider introducing legislation where appropriate to ensure all estate agents are suitably qualified.
4. Referral fees: Referral fees are paid by conveyancers or mortgage brokers to estate agents in exchange for recommending business to them. We want to create more transparency surrounding referral fees so customers can make an informed choice and feel they are being treated fairly. We will:
• work with industry to standardise the presentation of referral fees and ensure that customers are made aware of any potential referral fee before they make a decision whether to purchase;
• task the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team to proactively monitor the disclosure of referral fees; and
• look more closely at the case for banning referral fees, particularly for new build properties and instances when buyers are being referred.
5. ‘How to Buy’ and ‘How to Sell’ guides: The government will develop and publish guides on ‘How to Buy’ and ‘How to Sell’ which will complement our existing guide on ‘How to Rent’ and planned guides on ‘How to Let’ and ‘How to Lease’. These guides will ensure customers are better informed of the process and know what to expect throughout. We will:
• develop and publish ‘How to Buy’ and ‘How to Sell’ guides; and
• consider how the guide is distributed, for example making it a standardised part of estate agency engagement in the same way the ‘How to Rent’ guide is with letting agents.
6. Choosing a conveyancer: We want consumers to be able to make a more informed choice of conveyancer which considers service levels, not just price. Currently when selecting a conveyancer, home buyers and sellers often rely upon recommendations from friends and family or referrals from estate agents. We will:
• work with industry and consumer groups to develop solutions using more transparent data, standard metrics, kite marks and quality standards; and
• include advice on points to consider when choosing a conveyancer in government guides on ‘How to Buy’ and ‘How to Sell’.
7. Buying a new build home: A 2017 report found that 98% of new build buyers had reported snagging issues to their builders since moving in.7 This is an unacceptably high proportion. Completion dates are often pushed back by developers with little notice, leaving buyers in limbo. We will:
• improve the process of dealing with buyer complaints, informed by the findings from our consultation on strengthening consumer redress in the housing market.8
8. Making moving day better: On moving day buyers are often left sitting on driveways waiting for keys to be released from the estate agents. This is not only frustrating for buyers, but also affects moving companies and their workers, who are forced to wait around and then work late into the day, costing consumers millions in extra fees. We will:
• work with removal firms, conveyancers and lenders to see how the process around the release of funds can be improved.
9. Reducing time from offer to completion
10. The average time from offer to completion in England and Wales currently stands somewhere between 8 to 12 weeks, with around 40% of buyers and sellers stating it took longer than expected to buy their property.
11. We know that the longer the process takes between offer and completion, the more opportunity there is for buyers and sellers to get nervous, which can lead to people pulling out and in some cases, a whole chain of transactions collapsing.
12. We believe that a quicker process would reduce stress for consumers, and also reduce the number of failed transactions. Making more use of digital technology and getting buyers and sellers to provide more information up front is key to speeding up completions.
13. Ultimately, we see no reason why the home buying and selling process should be so lengthy. We want to work with consumers and industry to improve and redesign the process so it takes weeks rather than months.
14. Better technology: In the long term we want the process to be enabled by the wide range of technological improvements which are already speeding up other aspects of our lives. We also want to encourage digital innovators so that they can use their skills and expertise to transform the process. In the short term, we want to work with industry and other public sector bodies to encourage the development of digital signatures, improve the ID verification process and promote the adoption of e-conveyancing. To do this we will:
• establish a technology working group to engage users, industry and partners such as HM Land Registry to better understand user needs for new digital technology and stimulate innovation;
• task the group to prioritise work on digital signatures, improving and streamlining ID verification processes, and promoting the wider adoption of e-conveyancing; and
• work with innovators to explore routes to market for technological solutions.
15. More information up front: One of the reasons why the current process takes so long is that buyers (and their lenders) need to be satisfied that they have all of the information they need in order to proceed with their purchase. This information can take considerable time to assemble, and we believe this process should start much earlier. In the long term, we believe that most of the information consumers need to know about a property should be available when the property is marketed, for example through the development of a property passport. However, in the short to medium term we will use our ‘How to Sell’ guide to:
• encourage sellers to collect together relevant information (e.g. planning permissions, certificates for works done, previous searches) in an effort to be ‘sale ready’.
16. Earlier contact with freeholders: We already know that transactions involving a leasehold property take on average 2-3 weeks longer than transactions involving only freehold property. This is due in part to delays in receiving property information from the freeholder or managing agent. This is unacceptable. We will:
• set fixed time frames and maximum fees for the provision of leasehold information, potentially with a statutory underpinning, and encourage managing agents to make this information available electronically to enable instant access;
• work with industry to standardise the leasehold information form; and
• use our ‘How to Sell’ guide to encourage sellers to have early contact with their freeholder.
17. Speeding up local authority searches: Although response times to search requests have improved considerably over recent years, they still vary considerably between different local authorities. Lengthy waits can add weeks to the time taken to buy and sell. We will:
• write to all local authorities to set an expectation that they should respond to search requests within 10 working days and allow timely access for external search agents; and
• take action against authorities if they fail to meet these expected performance levels.
18. Getting a Decision in Principle: A Decision in Principle is a certificate from a mortgage lender setting out how much money they will lend to a buyer. We believe that all non-cash buyers should obtain a Decision in Principle before they start house hunting, and we know that many estate agents already ensure that prospective buyers have a Decision in Principle before they are able to view or make offers on properties. We will:
• make it clear in our ‘How to Buy’ guide that buyers should seek a Decision in Principle early in the process.
19. Reducing failed transactions
20. Over a quarter of all transactions fail costing hundreds of millions a year to consumers and causing undue stress to both buyers and sellers. Over 65% of all buyers and sellers are worried whether they will make it to completion following an offer being accepted.11 Government is particularly interested in the introduction of reservation agreements to address this problem given that a high proportion of buyers and sellers have expressed an interest in up front legal commitment. This will help to reduce the fear of gazumping.
21. Reservation Agreements: Reservation agreements are contracts which increase commitment between buyers and sellers earlier in the process, providing more certainty and reducing the risk of gazumping. These agreements are already used in some high value transactions but their use is not currently widespread. However, BEIS research, supported by the responses to the Call for Evidence, showed that buyers and sellers would be willing to use them. We believe that making use of these agreements a more common part of the process will reduce the rate of failed transactions and the fear of gazumping. We will:
• work with industry to develop a short standardised reservation agreement which can be used in any transaction;
• commission some behavioural insight research in order to consider ways to encourage consumers to adopt these agreements; and
• pilot these agreements with aim of making them a standard part of the process.
Did you see the Panorama programme on BBC 1 on 9th August?
If you do not have a Will you need to know what to look out for so why not pop in for a chat.
Link to the programme at www.bbc.co.uk/i/tfqqj
see the ICO web site and basic steps. Many small businesses and landlords and charities do not yet realise and how they are affected and all the data they are holding. seehttps://ico.org.uk/media/1624219/preparing-for-the-gdpr-12-steps.pdf
These leaflets tell you what is involved in legal situations – click on the topic that interests you for our checklist –
Justin Case you are made redundant
Justin Case you lose your job
Justin Case you are sued
Justin Case you are owed money
Justin Case you are involved in a dispute
Justin Case you are injured at work or in an accident
Justin Case you want to sell your home
Justin Case you want to buy a home
Justin Case you want to make your will
Justin Case you want to change your will
Justin Case you think your estate may be insolvent
Justin Case you are about to marry
Justin Case you have divorced
Justin Case you have been asked to be an Executor or trustee of a Will
Justin Case you have been asked to be a Testamentary Guardian in a Will
Justin Case there is no will
Justin Case you have been left out of a will
Justin Case you want to make arrangements in case you become unable to manage your own affairs
Justin Case someone has died
Justin Case you want to start a business
Justin Case you want to take on a partner
Justin Case you have an employment problem
Justin Case you want to invest in a business
Justin Case you want to sell a business
Justin Case you lose your job
Have you been employed for less than 12 months?
Does your employer have a disciplinary procedure?
Had you received any warnings before you were sacked?
Have you appealed against your dismissal?
How much notice were you given?
Did you ask for a written reason for your dismissal?
Was a notice of dismissal with reasons given to you?
You may be able to bring a claim.
Call for a meeting and bring wit you any documents relating to your employment and dismissal.
Justin Case you want to make a will
Locate any previous Will
Decide who you want to sort out your affairs after death as an executor
Decide who you want to benefit after death as a beneficiary
If you have children under 18 who do you want to look after them as guardian
What arrangments do you you want for your funeral
Do you have any specific money or property or other items you want to leave to a named person as a legacy or bequest
Do you have a responsibility to maintain anyone dependent upon you
Do you have any life insurance and if so what is the value and who is nominated under it?
Do you have any pension and does it survive you?
A list of assets and their approximate value and
full names and current addresses of anyone who you wish to benefit under your will
full name and address of any charity you want to benefit
Locate the original copy of the signed Will
If changing the executors have you asked the new ones if they are happy to do so
List the changes to the main wishes of your will and the reasons
Consider advice on the best way to deal with the change
the assets of the deceased will need to be valued and collected
the total value of debts will need to be established
there may be assets or policies available to pay loans and debts
disposals preceding death will need to be investigated
Marriage terminates automatically any existing Will
Consider advice about your existing Will
If you are remarrying - existing family will need consideration
Review your will in case it does not match your new circumstances
Divorce does not automatically revoke an existing Will
You need to know what this involves in time and any expenses
You will need to receive all necessary information
Justin Case there is no Will
Death without a valid Will creates an intestacy with money and assets locked until Letters of Administration are obtained
Letters of administration granted by the court are needed
There are statutory rules as to who benefits
Justin Case you have been left out of a Will
What was your relationship to the deceased
Did the deceased make payments for your living expenses
What did the deceased owe you and do you have any proof of old debt
Did the deceased make you promises in return for service
Was the Will properly made
trusted individuals may be appointed under a Lasting Power of Attorney
and cover just personal matters such as where you should live; and general welfare; and/or
your financial matters
Consider who you might appoint and ask them if they agree to do this
Have you decided whether you want to trade in a partnership or through a limited company?
Have you received advice – legal and financial - as to what is the best option for you?
Have you prepared a business plan and cash flow projections?
Have you found premises that suit your business?
If you plan to start the business from your home, do you know about any statutory obligations?
Do you know if, when and how to register for Data Protection, VAT, PAYE and other statutory requirements?
Have you thought about what terms and conditions of business you need?
If employing staff, do you know what your obligations are as an employer?
Do you understand your legal obligations to other businesses and to consumers?
Getting on the right track from day one is crucial for a successful business, so call for a meeting and we can help you with practical assistance and advice.
Justin Case you want to take on a partner
Do you trade in your own name or through a company?
Do you have or have you had a partner or partners?
Do you have any written agreement that sets out how the business should be run?
Will the new partner be putting any money into the business?
Will the new partner be working full or part time in the business?
Are you prepared to give away some control of the business and, if so, how much?
How long do you want the new arrangements to last?
Do you want to exclude any parts of the business or any assets?
Taking on a partner is like a marriage – it may be easy to get into but may be difficult and costly to get out! Call to make an appointment to discuss your plans with us.
Justin Case you have an employment problem
Does the employee in question have particulars of employment or a written contract?
Has the employee raised a grievance with you?
Do you have a written grievance procedure?
Have you instigated a disciplinary procedure involving the employee?
Do you have a written disciplinary procedure?
Has the grievance/disciplinary procedure been concluded?
Are you considering a change in employment terms, redundancy, or termination of employment?
Do you think the employee is planning to make a claim against you?
We are experienced in employment matters – both in preparing contracts of employment and other employment related procedures.
We handle claims in the Employment Tribunal for unfair or constructive dismissal
Call us to arrange to meet and discuss the best way forward for your employment situation
Have you been offered a stake in a business?
Is it in a trade you know or is it something new and exciting?
How well do you know the people who run this business?
Will you be a ‘sleeping partner’ or will you be involved in day to day running of the business?
What ‘return’ on your investment are you being offered?
What protection have you been offered to secure your investment?
What right to information about the business have you been promised?
Will you have any right to be consulted or make major business decisions?
Will you be expected to make further investment in the business?
It may be a ‘sure-fire winner’ but you need to be able to talk the proposition through with experts in the business of business
Just phone for an appointment
Have you decided to retire and sell your business?
Has someone made you an offer you can’t refuse?
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