Property fraud is a serious issue for landlords. The new Property Alert Service has been designed to detect and prevent property law and help landlords, as Jonathan West, partner, explains in his blog article.
Property fraud is a serious issue for landlords, with studies showing that it has increased by approximately 50% within the last year. Both the Government and the Land Registry are currently promoting the new Property Alert Service which has been designed to detect and prevent property fraud. At present, more than 50,000 people have taken the decision to utilise the service. The service is easy to use, completely free of charge and is definitely something that we would recommend to you as a landlord.
How does it work?
Anyone is able to sign up to the service, the only prerequisites being access to an active email address, and knowledge of the full address or title number of the property that is to be monitored. Up to 10 properties can be monitored on one account and there is no requirement that the person monitoring actually owns the property. Whilst as a landlord you will be the owner of the property, it is worth noting that you will also be able to monitor properties of others, for example, elderly relatives or friends/family who spend time overseas. Equally, others will be able to monitor your properties if you wish.
When substantial financial activity (such as a mortgage) or other activity (such as an application to change the register) takes place, instant alerts are sent to the monitoring email address meaning that the service is extremely effective in detecting property fraud at the earliest opportunity. Upon confirmation from you that the activity is suspicious, the process of preventing the property fraud can begin without delay.
Who is most at risk?
The owners of properties that are left empty, particularly for long periods of time
Owners of mortgage free properties
Owners of unregistered land (this is likely to be properties that have not changed hands or been remortgaged since 1998)
Realistically, the chances of falling victim to property fraud are relatively low, however, the impacts can be huge. Early detection and prevention can save your money and your time as well as giving you peace of mind that the matter is likely to be resolved with minimal damage caused.
If you are concerned about your exposure to property fraud as a landlord or would like further guidance as to how you can protect yourself, then we recommend that you seek professional advice. Simply contact me or a member of our landlord and tenant team and we will be happy to assist.