Property is an attractive target to fraudsters because it can be sold and mortgaged to raise money. Properties most at risk are usually empty tenanted or mortgage-free.
The individuals highlighted as a higher risk of fraud include;
- Owners who are absent.
- Buy to let landlords.
- Owners living abroad.
- The elderly not living in their properties for reasons such as long term hospital or residential care.
The Land Registry’s top tips to help owners protect their property from fraudsters are:
- If you make sure your property is registered you will be compensated for financial loss if you do fall victim to fraud.
- Once registered keep your contact information up to date so you can be easily contacted if a complication arises.
- You can have up to three addresses on the register; email addresses or an address abroad can be used. The more information you provide the more chance the Land Registry has of reaching you.
- You can have a restriction entered on your property if you feel it might be at risk. A restriction 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.
- From the 1 February 2012, there is no Land Registry fee for home owners to register this restriction, as long as they do not live in the property they wish to protect. Owner occupiers will continue to pay a small fee.
Malcolm Dawson, Chief Land Registrar said:“Today’s launch of our ‘Top Tips’ shows how important it is to let home owners know what simple steps they can take to protect their property - one of which is now the ability for those at greatest risk to have a free restriction entered which might prevent their property from being targeted by fraudsters and stolen unawares.
“We have introduced a range of additional safeguards in the last four years and we also work closely with other organisations to do all we can to tackle fraud and identify and take corrective action when it has happened. But home owners must also be vigilant and play their own part in protecting their properties against fraud.”
For more information visit the Land Registry’s website.
Please note that Action Fraud is not responsible for the content of third party websites.
To report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.