We have all seen scary reports of property fraud. What protections can you put in place to guard against the risk?
The Land Registry has identified that certain types of land and property may be particularly vulnerable to property fraud, such as:
- property that is empty, whether residential or commercial
- property that is rented out
- property that is mortgage-free
- property where the owner lives overseas
Here are some practical steps that you can take.
- Sign up for the Land Registry’s free Property Alert service
The Land Registry will send you an email alert when there is certain activity on the monitored property. Go to: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/property-alert
Here you can:
- monitor a property if it is registered with the Land Registry
- monitor the property of a friend or relative – you don’t have to own a property to set up an alert
- choose up to 10 properties to monitor
- Put a restriction on the title
The restriction would stop the Land Registry from registering a sale or mortgage of the property unless a solicitor certifies that the application was made by you. This is a sensible deterrent.
There is no fee for property owners to register this restriction against a property they own but don’t live in – otherwise it is £40.
If you are a company owning property, you can register the restriction on three properties for free.
Details of how to make the application are included in this Land Registry guide: https://www.gov.uk/protect-land-property-from-fraud
- Make sure that your contact details at the Land Registry are up to date
You can have three addresses, one must be a postal address in the UK or abroad but you can also have an email address. There is a form COG1 to do this and no fee is payable, or you can discuss this with your legal adviser.
If you are a property owning company that has changed its registered office and you have used the old registered office address as your contact address, the address should be updated on all properties the company owns.
The risk of property fraud is a very real one and unfortunately there appears to be an increasing number of incidents each year. It is difficult to completely eliminate the threat, but these quick and cheap solutions could make all the difference!
For further information, please contact:
Sally Newton, senior associate and PSL, Property
T: 0121 234 0205