Property fraud is where someone pretends to be the owner of a property and effectively steals that property by taking the actual owners identity and either selling or mortgaging the property without the true owner’s knowledge. They pocket the money and disappear leaving the true owner to face the consequences. This type of fraud is on the increase and solicitors face huge challenges in trying to protect their clients both buyers and sellers from this type of crime. Identity checks are standard practice now and the “norm” in relation to all clients but no system is 100% foolproof.
To offer further security to property owners the Land Registry have developed a programme called PROPERTY ALERT. It is an additional layer of protection available through the Land Registry (the register of property ownership in England and Wales) and if you are an owner of a property Guest Walker recommends you sign up to this NOW. It could stop someone stealing your home!
Almost all property transactions in England and Wales involve the Land Registry in some way. If anyone is planning a fraud in relation to your property there will be some activity at the Registry concerning it. Under the PROPERTY ALERT scheme the Registry can alert you to this. PROPERTY ALERT works by sending emails to subscribers to let them know, for example, that a mortgage is about to be taken out on a property or someone is about to buy it. The recipient of such an email would know immediately if this related to a genuine transaction and if it did not, would be able to act quickly to prevent it. It is a useful early warning of suspicious activity.
You can monitor up to 10 registered properties in England and Wales with PROPERTY ALERT. You don’t have to be the owner of the property so you could for example monitor a relative’s property.
Guest Walker is particularly concerned about fraud in relation to Landlords of properties i.e. absentee owners. Properties that are rented out, mortgage free and empty are those most at risk. If you own such a property we advise you to sign up to the free PROPERTY ALERT service as soon as possible. (https://www.gov.uk./guidance/property-alert).
If you would like any further help or information with this please contact our Conveyancing Department.
PROTECT YOUR PROPERTY NOW!
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