Restricting Fraud

There have been cases where properties have been fraudulently transferred without the property owner`s knowledge. The properties which are most vulnerable to fraud are those which are empty, tenanted or mortgage free. A property owner is also at an increased risk of fraud if they are absent from a property for an extended period.

If a property owner is an innocent victim of fraud and they suffer a financial loss, then the Land Registry will offer compensation. However, both the property owner and the Land Registry would prefer to prevent it from happening in the first place. 

There are simple steps which a property owner can take to minimise the risk of fraud including ensuring that they keep their contact details up to date (the Land Registry allow up to three contact addresses) so that the Land Registry can contact them easily. 

A property owner can also apply for a restriction to go on the title to their property stating that no disposition (i.e. sale, lease or charge) will be registered by the Land Registry unless a conveyancer provides a certificate confirming that the conveyancer is satisfied that the person who executed the document submitted for registration is the same person as the proprietor. 

The Land Registry are running a new scheme whereby it is free for an absentee home owner to apply for this restriction. For those who don`t qualify for it to be free (e.g. for those in occupation of their home), the Land Registry charge a small fee to enter the restriction on the title to their property. Anyone who owns or is about to buy a property and who is living there/intends to live there may still wish to consider paying to put this restriction on their title in case their plans change in the future (e.g. if they move away or go into residential care). 

Please don`t hesitate to contact Alison Munro on 01904 688543 or any other member of our Property Team should you require any further information. 

Posted on: 08/02/2012

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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