Property Fraud is on the rise. Empty, rental or properties that are not mortgaged are particularly at risk.
There are steps that you can take to protect against property fraud
There have seen several high profile scams, largely in London. This will spread to the provinces. A common property fraud involves property owners and innocent buyers falling victim to rogue tenants posing as owners. The tenants take elaborate steps to convince Estate Agents and solicitors that they are the Landlord and lawful owner of a property by fraudulently assuming the identity of the true owner.
There are easy solutions to this problem for properties lying in England and Wales. HM Land Registry have introduced a free ‘Property Alert’ service. It is described by HM Land Registry as –
‘an award winning free property monitoring service aimed at anyone who feels a registered property could be at risk from fraud.’
Once you have signed up to the service, you will receive email alerts when certain activity occurs on your monitored properties, allowing you to take action if necessary. You can sign up for a relative; you don’t need to be the owner.
You can also take it one step further by applying to the Land Registry for a Restriction to be added to the property. That will not merely notify you of significant activity, it will also prevent it.
Using the service is easy. A property owner simply creates a new account. Owners can register up to 10 properties. The Land Registry will verify the account and the owner is then be notified by email when official searches and applications are received against a monitored property. The owner is alerted to suspicious activity before the scam is completed.