Property fraud & the importance of registering your property

In September 2016 the Land Registry had reported that since 2009 they had “prevented frauds on over 200 applications representing properties valued in excess of £92 million.” Although Land Registry have reported that property fraud involving the selling or mortgaging of a property is rare, prevention is always better that cure.

But what is property fraud? Who is most at risk? And what types of prevention are available?

Property is a valuable asset for those who own their own home or even have a portfolio of properties. They can be sold and mortgaged in order to raise money, which is what makes property fraud attractive to fraudsters.

The most common form would involve a fraudster first stealing your identity and then either selling or mortgaging the property whilst pretending to be you. All without your knowledge. If the issue is not discovered and dealt with promptly, it can be distressing, time consuming and costly to correct.

You are more at risk if:

  • Your identity has been stolen
  • You rent out your property
  • You live overseas
  • The property is empty
  • The property is not mortgaged
  • The property is not registered.

So how can you protect yourself? Tiffany Craig is a Trainee Solicitor in our Conveyancing Team. She explains that there are a few options:

  • Ensure your property is registered.
  • Ensure your contact details are up to date at Land Registry. This allows them to reach you easily. When registering the title in to your name you can register up to three addresses including an email address. If your details are not up to date you may not receive any correspondence from Land Registry if they try to contact you.
  • Sign up to HM Land Registry free property alert service, it helps owners to guard against property fraud. You will receive an email alert when there is certain activity on a monitored property. You can then contact their property fraud line for further advice.
  • Owners can have a restriction entered on their property. A restriction is intended to stop activity on your property, such as a transfer or a mortgage, unless a conveyancer or solicitor confirms the application was made by you.

Tiffany concludes “As one of the final parts of the conveyancing process, we register your purchase with HM Land Registry. There is a fee charged by the Government for changing the records that the land registry holds about the property, but this does ensure that that you will be updated on the records as the legal owner of the property. This fee is paid directly to HM Land Registry and it is charged on a sliding scale based on the value of the property. We are happy to advise on entering a restriction on the property if you choose to do so as this is a further measure of security for you and your property.”

Our Conveyancing Team, based in Christchurch, also covers Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest. If you have any questions, you only have to ask us at Frettens. Please call 01202 499255 and Tiffany or her team, will be happy to chat about your situation and your particular requirements.