The risk of property fraud is on the increase, it is, therefore, important that you take certain precautions to avoid fraudsters targeting you, or your property.
You’re more at risk of property fraud if you rent out your property, you live overseas, the property is empty or the property is mortgage-free. In such circumstances, applications can be lodged to the Land Registry by fraudsters to register false transactions, which could change the ownership of your property without your knowledge.
Here are some ways to protect yourself from property fraud.
- Keep your address for service at the Land Registry up to date.
We can update your service address by making an application directly to the Land Registry, confirming that sufficient steps to verify your identity have been made. Of course, we first need to deal with such ID requirements.
By keeping your service address up to date, if the Land Registry needs to write to you, they will write to the correct address and this will bring any suspicious activity to your attention and/or give you an opportunity to challenge applications made against your property e.g. adverse possession applications.
- Register a restriction on your legal title to the property.
If your property is mortgage-free, you can protect against fraud further by registering a restriction on your legal title to the property. The restriction will be in your own favour and stop any transaction from being registered, without your own written consent. If your property is currently mortgaged this method may not have any real merit, but we are happy to advise further and make such an application on your behalf.
- Use the Land Registry’s online ‘Property Alert’ service.
Land Registry’s ‘Property Alert’ service allows a user to monitor up to ten properties at a time. The person monitoring the properties does not need to be the registered owner. The benefit of this service is when official searches or applications are received by the Land Registry you will automatically be issued with email alerts. This would allow you to take swift action if the activity seems suspicious.