Land Registry Extends Anti-Fraud Scheme To Business Property Owners
A scheme introduced in 2012 allowed residential property owners to put a notice on their registered title to the effect that their property cannot be sold, mortgaged or otherwise dealt with unless a solicitor or conveyancer certifies that the real property owner has signed the relevant legal documents.
The scheme has now been extended to owners of business property for a six-month pilot. Business owners can apply for a restriction to be registered against up to three properties free of charge. A restriction entered during the pilot will remain effective after the trial ends unless the business specifically applies to remove it.
The restriction will stop anyone registering a transfer or mortgage unless a solicitor or professional conveyancer provides a certificate that:
- they have checked that any company selling, leasing or mortgaging the property is the same company as the owner;
- they have taken reasonable steps to check that anyone who signs the relevant document on behalf of the company in fact held the office they said they did at the time of signing it.
The scheme is likely to result in extra enquiries on sale, lease or mortgage of a property. There may also be issues complying with the restriction where a company has become insolvent and a liquidator or administrator is dealing with the transaction. Therefore, companies facing potential insolvency should consider taking advice.