Property Fraud Alert
In recent years there has been an increased amount of property fraud. Sadly these include imposters purporting to be the property owner and benefiting from the sale proceeds, a co-owner selling property without the consent of their joint owner or a co-owner charging the property without the consent of their joint owner – the list is endless. We at Prince Evans have witnessed an increased amount of litigious instructions from clients who unfortunately have been victims of property fraud.
In light of this and as part of government guidance, the Land Registry have created the use of online property fraud alerts, this service is open to the public and free of charge. Property Alert offers peace of mind for anyone who feels that a registered property could be at risk from fraud and it is particularly useful if you do not live at the property. All you need to do is click on this link and sign up with your email address – https://propertyalert.landregistry.gov.uk/
All property alerts will be sent by email as and when activity occurs against a property such as an application or official search. This means that if completion is due to take place on a property, a solicitor will apply for an official search against the property in advance of the completion date. By you receiving an alert of the official search, it allows you to be one step ahead and take any necessary action prior to completion taking place. For example, if you receive an alert that a bank has lodged a search on your property but you haven’t applied for a mortgage – you should seek legal advice. The email alert will signpost the best person to contact if you need to take any action. You will also receive alerts every 6 months to confirm any activity on your account.
What’s more is that you don’t need to own a property to set up an alert, as long as you have an email address. You can monitor up to 10 properties at any one time and the same property can be monitored by different people (as long as the property is in England and Wales and registered at the Land Registry).
If you are not an online user, you can call the Property Alert team on 0300 006 0478 and will be sent hard copy alerts through the post as and when there is any activity against the property. This will of course, lose the expeditious nature of the email alert service.
Am I at risk of Property Fraud?
If you can answer yes to any of the following questions, you are at a higher risk of property fraud:
1. Is the property empty or does the owner live abroad or in a care home?
2. Is the property mortgage free?
3. Is the property subject to a family/matrimonial dispute?
What else can I do to prevent myself from Property Fraud?
Make sure your property is registered. If you become an innocent victim of fraud and suffer financial loss as a consequence, you may be compensated.
– If you are an owner/part-owner of a property, why not use Form COG1 to update the “address for service” held by the Land Registry? There is no charge for this. For each owner of each property, there can be up to 3 addresses, including an email address, but must include at least one postal address. All such addresses receive notification of any attempt to do anything of significance!
– Apply to the Land Registry to have a restriction entered on the property. This is designed to help prevent forgery by requiring a third party (or even a solicitor or conveyancer) to certify that they are satisfied that the person selling or mortgaging the property is entitled to or is the true owner.
If you have any queries concerning the matters raised please contact Anita Subramaniam, Affordable Home Ownership Team on 020 8567 3477 or e-mail ASubramaniam@prince-evans.co.uk