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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
Property fraud is on the rise and your property is probably the most valuable asset you own so it is important to protect it from the risk of fraud.
People are increasingly falling victim to property fraud because the tactics fraudsters use are much more sophisticated. Fraudsters are targeting properties by pretending to be you so they can try and sell or mortgage your property.
The Land Registry advise that you are more at risk if your property is one of the following:
Over the last 10 years around £55 million has been paid out under the Land Registry indemnity scheme because of forgeries. Do not become a victim of property fraud and take these easy steps.
Firstly, you should make sure that your property is registered at HM Land Registry. Your property will be registered if you bought it or mortgaged it since 1998. If you are unsure, you can check with the Land Registry who will be able to confirm whether it is registered. If your property is registered and are a victim of property fraud where you suffer financial loss, you will be compensated through the Land Registry indemnity scheme.
If your property is not currently registered with the Land Registry, then you can apply voluntarily for this to be registered. The Land Registry charges a discounted fee for voluntary registrations and we can prepare these applications for you at Brethertons.
Once your property is registered, you must then keep your contact details up to date. You can include an email address or an address abroad. Keeping contact details up to date is particularly important if you do not live at the property and have moved addresses since the purchase. Many Landlords with Buy-to-Let properties often overlook updating their rental property contact details when moving home themselves.
The second step is to sign up to the Land Registry Property Alert Service which is completely free of charge www.gov.uk/property-alert . Once you have signed up to this service the Land Registry will notify you of certain applications affecting the property you are monitoring. You will receive a notification for example for a new mortgage or change of ownership. You can monitor up to 10 registered properties in England and Wales. You don’t have to own the property, so could monitor the property for an elderly relative for example.
Alerts are normally sent by email but, you can still use the service if you are not online. If you receive an alert about an activity that seems suspicious you should take immediate action and contact the Land Registry Fraud Line.
Thirdly, if you feel that your property is particularly at risk from fraud then you can apply for a restriction to be placed on your property designed to help prevent forgery. The restriction prevents the Land Registry registering a sale or mortgage on your property unless a conveyancer or solicitor certifies the application was made by you.
It is important that you do what you can to protect your property.
Lottie Dunkley - Licensed Conveyancer
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