Fraud is on the increase and there is a rising incidence of fraudsters targeting the properties of both individuals and companies. Property fraud is becoming increasingly common and so these attacks often include identity and other types of fraud and the presentation of forged documents to Land Registry for registration.
Over the past months the Land Registry has designed, tested and now launched a new free service called Property Alert. Its aim is to help people detect unexpected activity on their property which could be fraudulent. Although the Land Registry state that the likelihood of being the victim of property fraud is low, the loss to the true owner of the property should it occur should be huge. There are various methods a fraudster could use to commit registration or property fraud. Details of all properties (and their owners) registered by the Land Registry are available to the public by submitting a simple form on the internet.
One example of registration fraud is that the fraudster could easily find out who is named as the owner of the property at the Land Registry, obtain fake identification documents with that name and convince a solicitor that they are the owner of the property. They are then able to sell that property and will receive the sale proceeds. If you are the true owner of the property you will know nothing about it!
The new Property Alert service will notify you of certain activity on your property. Anyone signed up to the service would receive an early warning of suspicious activity. This is an important and most beneficial service to all property owners but of particular importance for owners of properties who do not reside in them or which are owned outright (so without a mortgage).
For more information on how to sign up to the service visit - Land Registry: Property Fraud
By Kate Bullen, commercial property solicitor and Stephensons' Partner