ASK ROSS: Identity checks and questions about money might seem intrusive, but as Ross explains this month, it’s an essential part of the conveyancing process…
Our eminent residential property expert, Ross Ward, answers your questions about moving home. If you have a query about buying or selling, email firstname.lastname@example.org
My solicitor has asked me to produce proof of identity. Why do I have to do this again when I have already supplied the information to my estate agent and mortgage lender?
Solicitors need to see proof of your identity because it is a requirement of the government’s Anti-Money Laundering Regulations.
These rules apply to solicitors in the same way they affect banks, building societies and estate agents. In most cases, we must carry out our own checks and not rely on the work undertaken by others at earlier stages of the process.
You will normally be asked to produce your passport or driving licence and a recent utility bill or bank statement. If you do not have these documents, you should speak to your solicitor about other forms of identification that will satisfy the requirement.
My passport has expired and I do not have a driving licence. What can I use to prove my identity?
Speak to your solicitor about other types of documents that can be used to satisfy the regulations.
This will depend on your personal circumstances, but you may be able to submit copies of letters from government departments, such as HM Revenue and Customs or Department for Work and Pensions. You could also use council tax or utility bills and bank statements.
This is not an exhaustive list and it will be up to your solicitor to decide which documents will suffice.
My solicitor has told me that he will check my identity electronically. What does this involve?
In addition to producing your passport or driving licence and a utility bill or bank statement, your solicitor may seek to confirm your identity electronically. This is done in much the same way as a credit check and involves looking up details such as your name, address and date of birth on various databases. Unlike a credit check, however, it does not involve any credit scoring and should not affect your rating.
You may be charged a fee if it is necessary to carry out an electronic identity check.
I am buying my new house without a mortgage and my solicitor has asked me to provide evidence of the source of the funds. Why is this?
Your solicitor is required under the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations to identify the source and the distribution of funds in all property transactions.
If you are paying a large deposit towards the purchase price of a house, or you are buying a property cash, it is likely you will be questioned about where the money is coming from.
In order to comply with the regulations, your solicitor may ask you to produce some evidence, such as a bank statement, accountant’s letter or other documentation to show the source of the funds being used in the purchase.