How To Prevent Property Fraud
Property has become a target for fraud, fraudsters are pretending to be the owners of and have been known to sell or mortgage a property that does not belong to them.
It is therefore important to protect yourself against such a fraud which is more easily committed in the following circumstances:
1. If your property is still unregistered.
2. If a property is rented.
3. If the property is empty.
4. If there is no mortgage registered against the property.
Steps you can take to try and protect yourself
If the property is unregistered, we advise that you take legal advice on how to submit your title deeds to the land registry as a voluntary application to have your deeds registered. It is only compulsory to register title if you purchase a title that is unregistered at the point of sale or charge (mortgage).
In the other above-mentioned circumstances you can:
1. Ask your solicitor to apply for a restriction to be placed on the registers which states that the property cannot be transferred or mortgaged without your solicitor or conveyancer supplying a certificate to the land registry and that the person applying to change the register is you. Any solicitor or conveyancer is obliged to carry out identity checks on their clients whenever a transaction takes place.
2. It is crucial to keep your contact details up to date with the land registry so that they are able to contact you if necessary. You are allowed to give up to 3 contact addresses which may be an email address or an address abroad.
3. There is a free property alert service offered by the land registry which you can sign up to at www.gov.uk/property-alert or you can telephone the property alert team on 0300 006 0478.
It is possible to monitor up to ten properties in England and Wales even if you do not own them, so you could monitor for instance, an elderly parents property or a property where you act as an attorney for the owner.
If you suspect that a property fraud is taking or has taken place, then you should call the property fraud line at the land registry on 0300 006 7030.
If you have concerns regarding property fraud the Talk to Tollers conveyancing team.