Fraud is on the increase and there are more fraudsters targeting properties belonging to both individuals and companies. A typical situation is where fraudsters impersonate owners, forge documents and present them to the Land Registry to transfer the legal title into their name. Afterwards fraudsters use the property to obtain a mortgage from a bank and disappear with the money. The Land Registry states there is an enhanced risk of fraud when a property is empty, has been bought to let, an owner is spending time abroad or is absent and when a property has no mortgage.
The Land Registry has announced a new free service called Property Alert, with the aim of protecting against property fraud. The organisation will send those that sign up to the service email alerts, when it receives official searches and applications against monitored registered properties. Subscribers can have up to three properties monitored. The service is currently at the trial stage.
In order to avoid the risk of fraud it is advisable to make sure your contact details are up to date with the Land Registry or have the property registered if it is not already. Other measures include having a so-called ‘LL’ restriction on your title. This means that someone will only be able to register a sale or mortgage if a professional conveyancer certifies that they are the owner.