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Why buying a house now involves more financial questions?

Money laundering checks

Buying and selling property

Solicitors are regulated and have several legal duties imposed upon them if they are offering conveyancing services.

Many of these are around anti money laundering provisions in legislation. If a Solicitor facilitates money laundering or other activities such as terrorist funding, by not asking the right questions, they could face very serious criminal penalties up to and including prison.

This does not mean that the solicitor has to know that money laundering is going on. They can get into trouble just for not considering the risks and thinking about it. The same applies to Licenced Conveyancers.

Investing in property is one of the ways that money launderers and other criminals, including terrorist financers, conceal money. So, it has come under a lot of scrutiny in recent years.

There are also sanctions against certain people from around the world, most recently some Russians as a result of the Ukraine war, which mean that UK solicitors cannot assist those people to invest in property.

In practical terms all of this means that you are likely to be asked questions about who you are and where your money has come from if you are buying property. You are also likely to be asked to prove it by producing identity documents such as passports and driving licences and evidencing your source of funds by the production of bank statements.

You may be asked further questions about these things even after you have produced that evidence.

This applies even if you are not a high-profile Russian. Ordinary people buying ordinary houses are now subject to fairly high level of scrutiny because their solicitors are obliged, by law, to satisfy themselves about the transaction, source of funds and people involved, to ensure that there is nothing illegal going on.

So, when you get asked what may sound intrusive questions by your conveyancing solicitor don’t blame them. They must do it.

You can read our other guidance on buying a home, such as "How to find and choose a conveyancing lawyer", “Top tips to take the stress out of moving house” or “Buying a new home with the help to buy scheme”.