Property fraud: what precautions can you take?

Fraud

You may have recently heard of some cases whereby unscrupulous people have sold or tried to sell properties that are not owned by them.

The type of properties most at risk are those properties that are not occupied by the owners, such as properties that are let out, second homes or similar. The properties that do not have mortgages secured against them are also more attractive to the criminal.

So if you do own other properties, what can you do to lessen the risks?

Firstly, the Land Registry have started a property alert service.

You will need to sign up but you can monitor up to 10 properties. If certain activities occur on these properties you will be alerted by an email. On receipt of the email you can then decide whether you need to take action.

Secondly, you can have a restriction registered against the legal title which would have to be complied with in the event of a sale of the property. The wording is as follows:

‘No disposition of the registered estate by the proprietor of the registered estate is to be registered without a certificate signed by a conveyancer that the conveyancer is satisfied that the person who executed the document submitted for registration as disponor is the same person as the proprietor’

In essence, this would mean that a conveyancer acting either for yourself as the owner or someone purporting to be the owner will have to supply a certificate to the buyer’s solicitors confirming that they are satisfied that the person selling the property is the owner.

The Land Registry do not charge for registering this restriction, which can be easily applied by using form RQ from the Land Registry’s website.

For any residential property enquiries, contact our Residential Property team.

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