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What they’re doing is establishing that you are who you say you are and if you’re selling, that the property is legally yours to sell and that if you are buying, that the money is coming from a legitimate source.
For many, it feels like a real rigmarole, but while you know you are who you say you are, your professional adviser doesn’t. And what’s more, they are under strict legal obligations to carry out checks.
Trust us, whether it’s an estate agent, a property lawyer or your bank, they’re not purposely trying to annoy you at what is an already stressful time.
The reality is that they are each regulated separately and are legally liable if something goes wrong. So, they must take responsibility for their own checks, without relying on someone else’s. The legal guidance on this is very clear.
Criminals see property transactions as a great way of ‘cleansing’ the proceeds of their crimes. Buying a property enables criminals to launder large amounts of money in a single transaction. Which is why it is important you prove who you are and the source of your funds.
If part of your house deposit is a gift, the person gifting you the money will have to demonstrate how they came by the funds. So, in today’s world where the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ is often a big contributor in house purchases, parents will have to confirm the amount of the gift and how these funds were obtained.
Yet, as onerous as all this sounds, a bit of forward-planning goes a long way in a property transaction. Being prepared increases your chances of a seamless, quick transaction. So, with that in mind, it’s worth being aware of these checks in advance and getting the documentation together that you need at the outset.
You will need to show:
Proof of your current address, such as a driving licence, bank statement, or utility bill (not more than three months old). A full list of proof of address documents is available on the government’s website.
Proof of where your funding has come from, this might include your last three months’ payslips; a P60 from your employer; tax return and other documents if you are self-employed. More information on the documents you need are available on the Money Advice Service website.
If some, or all, of your funding is coming from inheritance, you will need evidence from the executors of the estate. If you have money coming from a family member, you will need a letter from them confirming that the money provided is a gifted deposit and that they have no rights over the property.
Remember, checking this information is a legal requirement to help safeguard your transaction, and failing to provide it in a timely manner will only slow down the transaction. If you want to know any more about the property buying and selling process, read the CLC’s guides on buying or selling your home.