If you own a property, you’re at risk of someone stealing it, especially if you don’t live in it.
But there’s no need to be a victim: there’s a simple way to protect yourself from property fraud.
If you own a registered property, says Land Registry – which manages the register of property title in England and Wales – there is one simple step you should take to help stop it being “stolen”.
Simply by giving Land Registry your up-to-date contact details, you can help ensure a fraudster doesn’t transfer your property into their name – and make you a victim of property fraud.
What is Property Fraud?
Property fraud happens in many ways, but typically a fraudster will impersonate a homeowner and forge documents to try to persuade Land Registry to transfer the title into their name. They then use the property to raise a mortgage from a bank – and disappear with the money.
In fact, fraudsters often target properties where the owner is absent – for example if the owner is a landlord, lives somewhere else for part of the year, is in residential care, or has died leaving the property held in trust.
That’s why, to help fight fraud, Land Registry is urging property owners to supply it with up to three up-to-date contact addresses so it can get in touch with you to confirm that a request to transfer title is genuine.
So if you’re an absentee owner or know someone who is, it’s vital that you act now. Up to two of the “addresses for service” you give can be email addresses and you can also give a non-UK postal address or a “care of” address.
One attempted fraud was recently stopped because the couple who owned the property – who had paid off their mortgage and were letting the property out – had given two addresses to Land Registry.
“Because they lived elsewhere, they’d supplied their home address as well as that of the let property as addresses for service with Land Registry,” says a spokesperson for Land Registry.
“In 2009, fraudsters, impersonating the couple, tried to change the named owners on the register so they could take over ownership of the let property.
“The couple were contacted immediately by Land Registry at both addresses for service and were able to object to the transfer of ownership. This meant the fraud was stopped.”
What You Should Do
So if you own a property that you don’t live in, for some or all of the year, protect yourself now – and contact Land Registry at www1.landregistry.gov.uk/propertyfraud to let them know your up-to-date address and email address too.
Or if you know someone in the same position, share or print this page and let them know what they need to do.
If you have any questions, call Land Registry on 0800 0283 404 (8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s worth it for the peace of mind – so act now to stop property fraud happening to you.
This article was written and supplied by Land Registry.