There have been cases where properties have beenfraudulently transferred without the property owner`s knowledge.The properties which are most vulnerable to fraud are those whichare empty, tenanted or mortgage free. A property owner is also atan increased risk of fraud if they are absent from a property foran extended period.
If a property owner is an innocent victim of fraud and theysuffer a financial loss, then the Land Registry will offercompensation. However, both the property owner and the LandRegistry would prefer to prevent it from happening in the firstplace.
There are simple steps which a property owner can take tominimise the risk of fraud including ensuring that they keep theircontact details up to date (the Land Registry allow up to threecontact addresses) so that the Land Registry can contact themeasily.
A property owner can also apply for a restriction to go onthe title to their property stating that no disposition (i.e. sale,lease or charge) will be registered by the Land Registry unless aconveyancer provides a certificate confirming that the conveyanceris satisfied that the person who executed the document submittedfor registration is the same person as theproprietor.
The Land Registry are running a new scheme whereby it isfree for an absentee home owner to apply for this restriction. Forthose who don`t qualify for it to be free (e.g. for those inoccupation of their home), the Land Registry charge a small fee toenter the restriction on the title to their property. Anyone whoowns or is about to buy a property and who is living there/intendsto live there may still wish to consider paying to put thisrestriction on their title in case their plans change in the future(e.g. if they move away or go into residentialcare).
Please don`t hesitate to contact Alison Munro on 01904688543 or any other member of our Property Team should you requireany further information.
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.