In these modern-day times, more than 88% of the land mass of England and Wales is registered with Land Registry. With Land Registry holding more than 26 million titles to show evidence of ownership, the presumption may be that ownership is fully protected. However, with the existence of property fraud, unfortunately, even if a property is registered, there is still the risk of someone fraudulently assuming your identity and selling your property without your knowledge. The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) reported that in 2020, ‘housing fraud’ accounted for more than half of the value (51.1%) of fraud they detected/prevented.
What makes some properties more high-risk than others?
Some examples that may put you and your property at higher risk are:-
- If you rent out your property
- If you live overseas
- If the property is empty
- If your identity has been stolen
- If the property is not mortgaged and has no other charges registered against it
So, with the known risk of property fraud, how can you protect yourself?
One way to protect yourself is to have a Fraud Prevention Restriction; otherwise known as a Proof of Identity Restriction.
How does this give me additional protection?
Due to the wording of the restriction, Land Registry cannot process the registration of a sale or transfer of the property (i.e. the property being transferred out of your name and into someone else’s name) unless they have received a certificate signed by a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to confirm that they are satisfied that the person selling the property is one in the same with the registered owner. For example, they have obtained identification documents from you, carried out ID checks and are satisfied that you are who you say you are. In addition, the solicitor or licensed conveyancer should obtain something that links the individual/s to the property, such as a council tax bill or utility bill.
How can Attwells help you?
If you would like a Fraud Prevention Restriction to be added to the title for your property, our conveyancing team can help you with this.
Please contact us on 01473 229200 for a quote.
Aside from the Fraud Prevention Restriction, what else can you do to protect yourself?
Make sure that the address for service on your title documents is up-to-date, as this is the address that Land Registry will write to if they receive an application that affects your property.
In addition, you can sign up to Land Registry’s Property Alert Service which can be accessed by visiting https://www.gov.uk/guidance/property-alert
By signing up to the service, this will enable you to monitor activity on your property, as long as this is registered and is located in England or Wales. Land Registry will also notify you if there is activity at the Land Registry relating to your property, for example, if someone is trying to register a change of ownership or a mortgage against the property. These alerts are usually sent to you by email if you provide an email address to Land Registry.
Another helpful use for the Property Alert Service, is that you do not have to be the legal owner of the property that you wish to monitor, therefore you could also use this service to monitor the property of an elderly relative.