Fraud is on the increase with a rising number of fraudsters targeting vulnerable properties. These attacks often include impersonating the registered owner or the presentation of forged documents to transfer the property into the fraudster’s own name.
Fraudsters attempting to acquire ownership of a property often target properties where there is no mortgage or the owner lives elsewhere.Owners may be particularly vulnerable from fraudulent activity where:
- a property is bought to let or is tenanted
- a property is empty
- the owner is abroad
- a personal representative is responsible for a property where the owner has died and the property is to be sold
- a high value property has a legal charge in favour of an individual living overseas
- a property awaits or is undergoing redevelopment
- the owner is infirm or in a nursing or care home
- a property has no mortgage
- a relationship breaks down
If you own a registered property you have to provide an ‘address for service’ where letters and notices are to be sent to you. The Land Registry might contact you when they receive an application regarding your property.
If you change your name such as on marriage or on entering into a civil partnership, it may mean that you do not receive letters or notices the Land Registry send you.
In order to minimise risk, owners should keep their name and the addresses for service at Land Registry up to date. The amount of any compensation paid by Land Registry may also be reduced where loss is suffered by an owner as a result of any lack of proper care on your part.You can have up to three addresses for service, in any combination. For example:
- an address where you are living now
- an email address
- an address abroad
An email address is an ideal address for service. The use of a restriction might also help to prevent your property from being targeted by fraudsters. This is designed to help prevent forgery by requiring a solicitor or conveyancer to certify they are satisfied that the person selling or mortgaging the property is the true owner.