Is Your Property Protected Against Fraud?
Your property is probably the most valuable asset you own. That's why it's important you do whatever you can to protect it from the risk of fraud.
Property fraud happens in many ways, but typically a fraudster will impersonate a homeowner and forge documents to try to persuade Land Registry to transfer the title into their name. They then either sell the property or use the property to raise a mortgage from a bank – and disappear with the money.
There is an increased risk of fraud when
- your property’s mortgage has been paid off
- your property is empty or you’re letting it
- an owner is spending time abroad or absent
- the owner is infirm or in a nursing or care home
- a relationship breaks down
There have been cases where tenants have changed their names by deed poll to the owners name and then sold the property. A recent case where a man in his late 20s was jailed in London for using somebody else's £1m house as collateral for a £525,000 mortgage.
Land Registry have stopped hundreds of fraudulent applications on properties worth millions and have a dedicated fraud team and work closely with the police and other agencies to reduce the risk of property fraud.
You can sign up to get property alerts if someone applies to change the register of your property, for example if someone tries to use your property for a mortgage. This won’t automatically block any changes to the register but will alert you when something changes so that you can take action. You can get alerts for up to 10 properties - there’s no fee. You can do this by visiting https://propertyalert.landregistry.gov.uk/
If you’re worried you may be the victim of property fraud, contact Land Registry immediately. You should also get legal advice and contact the police. For more information please go to http://www.landregistry.gov.uk/public/property-fraud.
Have a good week!