Internet fraud, online scams, ‘phishing’ emails– most of us are, sadly, all too aware of the many different ways that we can become a victim of fraud. But very few of us are aware that our status as a property owner also means that we are at risk of fraud…
Realistically, property fraud is less likely when you live in the property that you own. The risk is heightened if you own a portfolio of properties that are let out or remain empty for any time.
Property fraud is usually instigated via identity theft. A fraudster might get hold of your details, pretend to be you, and then either try to sell or mortgage your property. That risk is heightened if you have no mortgage or if your property isn’t registered.
The land registry recommends the following steps be taken to make your property more secure:
- If your property isn’t already registered with the land registry (you can check the register here…) then make this a priority: https://www.gov.uk/protect-land-property-from-fraud
- There is a registration fee that varies dependent upon the value of your property
- Note: your property will be registered if you bought it or mortgaged it since 1998
- Sign up to the land registry’s free Property Alert Service
- You can monitor your own property (if it’s registered)
- You can monitor the property of a relative (if it’s registered); you don’t need the land registry title number, just the address
- You can choose to monitor up to ten registered properties
- You will receive email alerts when there is certain activity on the properties you are monitoring; for example if someone tries to use your property for a mortgage
- It’s worth noting that you don’t have to own a property to set up an alert
- Put a restriction on your title
- You can stop HM Land Registry registering a sale or mortgage on your property unless a conveyancer or solicitor certifies that the application was made by you
- Business owners - fill in a request for a restriction if you’re a company owning property. Send your application to the address on the form - there’s no fee
- If you don’t live at the property - fill in a request for a restriction for owners not living at the property if you own the property privately - there’s no fee
- If you live at the property - fill in an application for a restriction. It costs £40
- Send completed forms to the HM Land Registry Citizen Centre, PO Box 74, Gloucester, GL14 9BB
- HM Land Registry will tell you when they add the restriction.
If you think you have been a victim of property fraud, you can contact HM Land Registry property fraud line – firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 0300 006 7030.
If you would like help or advice regarding any of the points listed above, please call our friendly conveyancing team on 01603 625231. Or you can email us: email@example.com.