Protect your home from fraud

20 October 2016

Your home will often be the most valuable asset you own, and you will take care to leave doors and windows secure against intruders when leaving for the day or a longer absence. However, when did you last consider how secure your property ownership is against fraudsters seeking financial gain at your expense?

In this blog article, senior solicitor, Alison Elwess, takes a look at how you can protect yourself against property fraud.

Your home will often be the most valuable asset you own, and you will take care to leave doors and windows secure against intruders when leaving for the day or a longer absence. However, when did you last consider how secure your property ownership is against fraudsters seeking financial gain at your expense?

Instances of property fraud remain stubbornly resistant to efforts to reduce it, with the Land Registry having to pay out over £31million in compensation to defrauded property owners between 2012 – 2014.* Property fraud may occur where fraudsters forge transfer or mortgage documents, or where the genuine owners have been the victims of identity theft, enabling fraudsters to impersonate them successfully to sell or mortgage a property without their knowledge.

Properties which are particularly vulnerable to this type of fraud include those where the owners do not occupy the property themselves, properties which are the subject of family disputes (perhaps on separation/ divorce), and vacant properties where the owner may have died or moved into a care home.

If a property you own falls into one of these categories, or perhaps more importantly, if you are responsible for such a property on behalf of others (perhaps as an attorney or executor), there are several simple steps you can take to protect the property against fraud:

  • Make sure the property is registered with the Land Registry – once registered, there is a state-backed guarantee of your ownership and if you become an innocent victim of fraud, you may be compensated. If your property is currently unregistered, contact us for information about voluntary registration.
  • Once registered, ensure the Land Registry has up to date contact details registered against all the properties you own. You can register up to three contact addresses; one must be a postal address, and one may be an e-mail address.
  • Ask your solicitor to register a restriction against your property requiring a certificate to be provided by a conveyancer confirming your identity on future dealings with the property. 
  • Register for the Land Registry Property Alert service. Once you have signed up, the Land Registry will notify you of searches against the property, and of applications they receive relating to it, giving you a valuable opportunity to investigate and, if necessary, challenge unexpected interest in the property in question.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about protecting your property from fraud please contact me or a member of our team. 

*Source: Figures obtained by Titlesolv (title insurance and property risk solutions provider) under Freedom of Information requests and reported by Property Wire in August 2015 - http://www.propertywire.com/news/europe/land-registry-property-fraud-2015080510828.html


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