How to protect your property from fraud
What is property fraud?
Fraudsters can and do target properties for fraud. By impersonating and trying to sell or mortgage your property, leaving you to deal with the consequences. Fraud of all kinds is on the increase, so it’s important you do what you can to protect yourself. With incidents of property fraud, unfortunately, increasing in recent years, Shaun Kellaway – Conveyancing Solicitor at Harold G Walker talks about some practical steps that you can take to help protect yourself and your property.
You are more at risk if your property:
- is rented out
- is empty
- is mortgage-free
- isn’t registered with Land Registry
How can you reduce the risk of being a victim of property fraud?
- Make sure that your address is up to date at the Land Registry.
Most title fraud occurs where the Land Registry does not have a current address for the owner of a property. If you move from your property, perhaps to rent it out, or have a period of extended travel, it is really important to make sure that the Land Registry has up to date contact details for you. This is to ensure that you will receive any notices that are served in respect of the property. It is possible to have more than one address registered and I recommend that clients consider registering a second address – this can even be an email address.
- Sign up to the Land Registry’s ‘Property Alert Service’
This is aimed at anyone who feels a registered property could be at risk from fraud. This is a free service and enables you to receive email alerts from the Land Registry whenever certain activity that seems suspicious occurs on your property allowing you to then take action if necessary. To create an account, simply visit https://propertyalert.landregistry.gov.uk
- Register a restriction against the Property.
As a further measure, where you will not be living at the property, it is possible to register a restriction against the property, which aims to prevent forgery. It requires that a conveyancer must certify that they are satisfied that the person transferring or mortgaging the property in the future is the same person as the owner.
- Apply for first registration.
If your property is unregistered, it is particularly vulnerable and I would, therefore, suggest submitting an application for voluntary first registration. This may also save time and complications when you eventually come to sell the property.
For further information about applying for first registration or any of the matters referred to above please contact the Conveyancing team.