Property fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their scams. Examples of property fraud include fraudsters impersonating a property owner and without their knowledge attempting to sell the property or raise a mortgage against the property and make off with the proceeds.
You are at a higher risk of becoming a victim of property fraud if you fall within one of the following categories:
- Your identity has been stolen
- Your property is let
- You live/are registered overseas
- The property is empty
- There is no mortgage secured against the property
- The title to the property is unregistered at the Land Registry
There are steps that you can take to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of the above types of scams, for example:
Tracking Changes to the Register
The Land Registry provides a service whereby alerts can be sent to you if certain applications are made against your property. For example, if the Land Registry receives an application to register a mortgage or if a priority search is submitted, an alert will be sent to you by email. You will be notified of the application and details of the applicant.
There is no fee for the tracking service and you can sign up for property alerts for up to ten properties in one account with the Land Registry. If you own more than ten properties, it is possible to sign up for property alerts for each but you will need to set up additional accounts with a different email address and password for each.
A sale or mortgage may be prevented by a restriction registered against the property, which requires a conveyancer to provide a certificate to the Land Registry that the purported seller or borrower is in fact the property owner.
If you suspect that you have been the victim of property fraud, consult a solicitor or contact the Land Registry dedicated fraud line on 0300 006 7030.