Top Tip: How to protect yourself from Property Fraud
01 Feb 2022
Property fraud can occur where dishonest people try to “steal” your property or the value of it, usually by pretending to be you and mortgaging or selling your property whilst you’re unaware. This can happen where the property owner does not live at the property, for example if the property is unoccupied or if it is tenanted. The Land Registry operates a free Property Alert service to prevent this from happening.
If there is any application to the Land Registry by anyone for, for example, a Land Registry search certificate or an application to change any part of the Register, an alert is triggered. The Land Registry will then tell you about it. You can register an email address directly with the Land Registry to be notified when there is any Land Registry activity in respect of your property title.
his enables you to take quick action if you receive an alert about anything suspicious as the email alert will inform you who to contact. The alert will tell you the type of activity such as an application to change the register or a notification that an application may be due, who the applicant is and the date and time it has been received.
• monitor a property if it is registered with the Land Registry
• select up to 10 properties to monitor
• monitor the property of a relative, so you can set up an alert even if you do not own the Property
The same property can be monitored by various individuals. For example, an apartment can be registered with two titles. Blocks of flats are sometimes owned by companies (Freehold), and separately, the person owning a singular flat (Leasehold).
An example of the Property Alert service:
Miss Smith rented out her house in England and she went to live abroad. She realised that absent landlords are at risk of property fraud, so she signed up the Land Registry Property Alert.
A few months later she got an email alert from the Land Registry, to let her know that someone had made an application to register a mortgage on her house. Miss Smith found this suspicious, and subsequently contacted the Land Registry’s property fraud line. The Land Registry further investigated and prevented the application from being registered as it was found to be fraudulent. Miss Smith’s kept her contact details up to date with the Land Registry so they could continue to contact her future if needed.
The Government website stipulates that since September 2009, HM Land Registry has prevented 400 fraudulent applications being registered, representing properties valued in excess of £207 million.
For more information please contact Zahra Mawji on 0208 872 3046 / Zahra.Mawji@haroldbenjamin.com