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While it may not be possible for someone to physically steal your house, unfortunately property fraud is a real threat. Since 2009, HM Land Registry has stopped more than £92 million worth of property fraud.
Having said that, it is still relatively rare, but some individuals are more at risk than others. There are certain situations which leave you more vulnerable. These are:
- If the property is:
o rented out
o not mortgaged
o not registered with HM Land Registry (if you bought or mortgaged it since 1998, it will be)
- If you live abroad
- If you are involved in a family dispute – e.g. you are separating or divorcing
- If you have been a victim of stolen identity
The type of fraud typically involves someone trying to obtain a mortgage against the property or selling the property without the owner’s knowledge.
Fortunately, HM Land Registry provides a free service to monitor this type of activity. It is available for all properties in England and Wales and which are registered with Land Registry.
You can monitor up to ten properties at any time. It’s ideal if you rent properties out, but you don’t have to own a property to monitor it either. As an example, if you are concerned for an elderly relative living alone, it would be possible to keep a check on their property for them.
It takes just a few minutes to sign up for it. All you need to do is go to https://propertyalert.landregistry.gov.uk/ and create an account. You will then be sent a validation email and once you reply to that, you will then need to log in to set up the property that you wish to monitor.
Alerts are sent out each time there is a significant activity on the property being monitored. For example that could be if a mortgage is taken out against it and would include details of who the applicant is as well as the date and time of receipt.
Not all alerts will be flagging suspicious activity. However, if it is suspicious, you should take immediate action. There are various organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau and Action Fraud that can give you advice or for more specialist advice, speak to your solicitor or licensed conveyancer.
If you have any concerns about property fraud, please call us on 01484 821 500 or email email@example.com.