The risk of property fraud...

...and how you can help protect against it.

Protect yourself against property fraud if you live abroad, have no mortgage, have lost your passport, property is empty or is not registered

As a Buy-to-let Investor, it would be prudent to protect your properties from the risk of fraud and there are various steps that can be taken to do so. As the owner of investment properties, you’re more at risk of being the target of fraud especially if:

  • the property is currently empty;
  • you live overseas;
  • your identity has been stolen;
  • there isn’t a mortgage on the property; or
  • if the property isn’t registered with the Land Registry.
Your property should be registered if you bought it or mortgaged it since 1998.
 

The Property Alert Service

The Land Registry operates a Property Alert service that allows you to track Land Registry changes and receive alerts for up to 10 properties. The Land Registry will notify you if someone applies to change the register of your property, for instance if someone tries to use your property as security for a mortgage. Whilst this won’t automatically block any changes to the register, it will alert you when something changes so that you can take action. The Land Registry currently does not make any charge for use of this service.

You are able to sign up to the Property Alert service at: https://propertyalert.landregistry.gov.uk/ .

The Land Registry have also produced a short video on You Tube entitled: ‘Protecting your property from fraud’.

Restriction on the Title

Another way of protecting your investment is to instruct us to apply to register a restriction on the title to the property. Such a restriction will stop the Land Registry registering a sale or mortgage on your property unless a conveyancer or solicitor certifies the application to confirm they are satisfied that the person selling or mortgaging the property is the true owner. If you are a business owner or own a property that you do not live in the Land Registry do not currently charge a fee to enter this restriction. If you live at the property which you want to register the restriction against, then the Land Registry makes a charge of £40.

If you think you may be the victim of property fraud, then the Land Registry operate a property fraud line and you are able to contact them for advice and assistance in the first instance. The telephone number is 0300 006 7030.

For further information on: property fraud, buy-to-lets, commercial and residential property transactions please call 01733 882800 or directly contact:

Anna Spriggs, Partner & Head of Commercial, at anna.spriggs@hcsolicitors.co.uk; or

Greg Begy, Residential Property Team Leader at greg.begy@hcsolicitors.co.uk.

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This article has been prepared for general interest and information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. While all possible care has been taken in the preparation of this article, no responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by the firm or the authors.