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5 ways to protect yourself from Property Fraud

3 May 2022

Conveyancing Solicitors

Property fraud is on the increase and has been highlighted by the recent ITV drama, Our House.  It may seem unbelievable that someone could ‘steal a house’, but fraudsters can be very sophisticated.

Although fraudsters can target any property, those most at risk are those that are empty and/or that do not have any mortgage registered against them.

You can protect yourself, and your home, by understanding the properties that are most at risk, and by taking a few simple steps:

  1. If your property is unregistered, speak to your solicitor about getting it registered now. Generally speaking, a property is likely to be unregistered if it hasn’t been sold or remortgaged since 1998.  Once registered, you can then also take the following steps:
  2. Make sure you keep your address up to date at the Land Registry. The Land Registry maintains an ‘address for service’ for all registered property owners.  If there is any query about your property, they will contact you at the address that they hold.  So, it is really important that if you move house, you notify them of your new address.
  3. Include an email address. The Land Registry can keep up to three contact addresses for you – and one of those can be an email address.  This can be a useful way to make sure that you don’t miss anything.
  4. Register for property alerts. The Land Registry offers free property alerts  which will notify you by email if someone makes an application to make any changes to the register, such as trying to use your property to get a mortgage, or if someone believes they are buying your property.  The alerts won’t stop any changes being made, but they will notify you so that you can then seek help.  You can get alerts for up to 10 properties.
  5. Include a restriction on the title. You can ask the Land Registry to record a restriction against your property which will stop any sale or mortgage being registered without a conveyancer or solicitor certifying that the application has been made by you.  This may mean that when you are actually making changes, such as remortgaging, you may have to pay your solicitor a small extra charge to deal with the restriction – but it would be worth it for the peace of mind of knowing that you have extra protection.   If you don’t live at the property, you can register a restriction for free: Request a restriction if you own a property you don’t live at .  If you live at the property there will be a small Land Registry fee: Request a restriction if you live at the property .  If you need help with either of these applications, give Poole Alcock a call and we would be delighted to help you.

 

If you think you might have been the victim of property fraud, contact the police and your solicitor immediately.  You can also seek advice from the Land Registry (reportafraud@landregistry.gov.uk); or Action Fraud.

If you would like to speak to someone about your property, or have property to buy or sell, Poole Alcock would be delighted to help you.  Visit our website for a quote, or call us on 0800 470 0335.

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