Howes Percival is urging absent owners of properties to sign-up to the Land Registry’s latest initiative to combat property fraud.

Property, in particular empty, tenanted or mortgage-free property, is an attractive target for fraudsters because it can be sold or mortgaged to raise money. To combat this problem, the free service from The Land Registry allows absent home owners to place a restriction or notice on the registered title saying that no sale, mortgage or other dealing is to be registered without a solicitor or conveyancer certifying that they are satisfied that the property’s owner has signed the relevant document.

James Frankland, an expert in property law commented: “The Land Registry’s new initiative is a welcome move for buy-to-let landlords and absent homeowners. It will also help vulnerable home owners such as the elderly who may have gone into a care home leaving their house vacant. Such properties are often targeted by fraudsters who raise finance on them.

“The application form doesn’t need to be filled in by a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer and the Land Registry’s web site contains helpful guidance on how to complete it.”

The scheme is free to individuals who do not live or do not intend to live at the property. Owner-occupiers and companies can also arrange the same protection for their properties for a £50.00 fee. The initiative is launched for an initial period of six months. More details can be found on the Land Registry web site at: http://www1.landregistry.gov.uk/about-us/press-listing/2012/property-fraud-free-measures and http://www.hmlandregistry.gov.uk/property-information/property-fraud/form-rq-faqs