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New helpline to combat property fraud

The Land Registry has just set up a dedicated phone line for home-owners who think they may be the victims of fraud.

You can now ring 0300 006 7030 if you think someone else is trying to sell or mortgage your home, and alert Registry staff.  

This is part of the continuing campaign to stamp out property fraud, which is costing millions of pounds every year.

Homes which are particularly vulnerable to fraud include:

  • Houses or flats which are let – cases have been reported where tenants have impersonated their landlord and sold or mortgaged a property, then disappeared with the proceeds.
  • Property left vacant for any length of time – perhaps because the owner is on an extended trip abroad or is in long-term care in hospital, or perhaps because the owner has died.
  • Homes subject to an ownership dispute, such as on divorce.  
  • In all these cases, a home which is free from mortgage is more vulnerable.

Don’t wait until you find that your home has been stolen from you

Alasdair Lewis, the Registry’s Legal Services Director, says “Fraud affects all parts of today’s society and everyone in it, costing this country an estimated £38 billion each year. Government has a zero tolerance to fraud against the public purse but in order to fight fraud, everyone needs to work together. The need for everyone to play their part is just as relevant in the fight against property fraud as in other contexts. ”

Take steps now to help prevent property fraud.

Here are some things you can easily do:

  • Make sure that the Land Registry has your current postal address on the title register.  
  • Register more than one address – you can register up to three addresses for service of notices, including an email address. The address of your Solicitor or other agent could be included, and if you are going abroad a foreign address can be registered.
  • If you are letting the property it is best not to include the property address as one of your registered addresses (unless you also live at the property you are letting. ) That will prevent letters from the registry being intercepted by fraudsters.
  • Get a restriction registered on the title which will prevent any sale or mortgage being registered unless a Solicitor or conveyancer certifies that they are satisfied that the person selling or mortgaging the property is the true owner. If you are not an owner-occupier ( e.g. if you let the property or are a personal representative) there is currently no fee for registering such a notice.
  • Executors or personal representatives of a deceased owner should consider getting the property registered in their own names, especially if the property is not going to be sold immediately.
  • If your property title is currently unregistered, get it registered straight away.  

As always with property matters, it is best to obtain advice from your Conveyancing Solicitor. But if you suspect that someone is trying to sell your home or get a mortgage on it without your knowledge, ring the Land Registry’s helpline straight away. .

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