It may sound like an odd question, but do you really own your home? A new scam that’s now becoming more common is putting all property owners at risk. As this Times article confirms.
It has the thieves taking away a property owner’s home without ever physically showing up at the front door.
This particularly disturbing type of property fraud is where criminals have a property transferred into a different name without the knowledge of the rightful owner. This may involve having correspondence about the property transferred to another address so that the fraudsters can gain control over it.
The criminals may either get a mortgage on the property - and disappear with the proceeds - or even sell it. The genuine owner may know nothing about any of this until they receive letters from a mortgage company warning them that the property is due to be repossessed because of non-payment of the mortgage. If the property is bought by an innocent third party the sale will probably be valid.
If you want to take some basic steps to help with property fraud prevention then there a number of actions you can take.
- If your property is unregistered then it is would wise to arrange for a conveyancing solicitor to register the property at the Land Registry as the deeds of your property would be electronically stored with Land Registry. It will also be useful to have your property registered if you were to offer your property as security to a financial organisation for a loan or a re-mortgage.
- A property owner could certainly consider adding a standard form restriction on their title register, particularly where their property is not subject to a mortgage (the existence of a mortgage and the usual accompanying restriction hopefully reduces the risk of fraud involving a mortgaged property). The aim of the restriction would be to prevent the Land Registry from registering a transfer of the property without a solicitor certifying that, for example, the transferor is indeed the registered proprietor.
- If you are concerned that you are, or may become, the victim of property fraud, consider property fraud prevention by having more than one address for service. For example, you might want to have not just the property address, but also the address that you are now living at.
If you think you are at risk of property fraud or would like to receive emails about property fraud protection contact us via our contact form here mentioning property fraud and we will be in touch. There is also a very informative guide from land registry here on how to safeguard against property fraud as well as more articles on property fraud on our web site.