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For the majority of people, property is their most valuable asset. Incidents of property fraud, although still rare, are on the increase and the perpetrators are developing ever more imaginative and successful scams. This series of blogs will look at recent examples of fraud and give tips on guarding yourself from becoming a victim. But first, we need to know which properties are most at risk.
It is important to be aware that every property owner is at risk of becoming a victim of property fraud. However, you are more at risk if your property:
• Is rented out.
• Is empty – for example you live overseas or have moved out.
• Isn’t mortgaged.
• Isn’t registered.
• Is of high value.
• Is being refurbished.
• Only has the property address as the contact address for the owner.
Although not an example of property fraud, a recent case decided in the Court of Appeal does demonstrate one very important (and simple) step property owners should take to reduce the risk of property fraud. Mr Tanna had owned the property in question (an unoccupied, run down and derelict former nursing home) since 1996. Oldham MBC served notice on Mr Tanna to demolish the property. The contact address at the Land Registry for Mr Tanna was not correct and he never received the notice.
The Court held that if a local authority is not given another address by the owner, they are entitled to rely on the address at the Land Registry. They need go no further in their enquiries to find an address than the address held at the Land Registry. Consequently, the notice was valid and Mr Tanna faced the demolition of his property. It is the responsibility of the owner to update their address at the Land Registry.
Check your address for service at the Land Registry and ensure it is up to date. This is the address at which the Land Registry (and other parties, such as your local authority) will write, or send formal notices, to you concerning your property. You can have up to three addresses for service at the Land Registry, one of which must be a postal address, but can also include an email address, an address abroad or your solicitor’s address. This will be particularly important for those who do not occupy property they own or are away from home for long periods. It may also be desirable for companies to have more than just their registered office address.
Ramsdens property team will do everything in our power to make sure our clients’ interests are safeguarded at all times, so call out team on 01484 821 500 if you need advice.