Residential property owners open themselves up to property fraud particularly when leaving properties empty in circumstances such as void periods between tenancies; living overseas for part of the year; carrying out building works; parents moving to residential homes; and whilst waiting for grant of probate. Unsurprisingly, properties are also at risk when they are tenanted, and where there are no mortgages registered. Add to this the general rise in identity theft and owner occupiers should be extra vigilant and look for ways to protect themselves and their property.
There are several simple tools available to combat fraud
1. Address for Service
Did you know you can add up to three addresses for service on the property register? At least one of these must be a postal address, but this does not have to be in the UK. The other two addresses can be a DX address, a UK or overseas postal address or an email address. By having more than one address for service, you limit the chances of any important correspondence from the Land Registry being intercepted. For more information on how to add additional addresses or update addresses click here. Form reference COG
2. Property Alert Service
A relatively new service offered free by Land Registry is the Property Alert Service. You can register up to ten properties. Email alerts will be sent to you when certain activity occurs on your monitored properties. It is very quick and easy to set up alerts and can take as little as five minutes! All Land Registry requires to create an account is your name, contact address, email address and password. An email is then sent to you containing a link to activate the account. To add a new property, you simply need to enter the house number and postcode of the property to be monitored. You should select the relevant freehold or leasehold property as appropriate and confirmation will be provided with the title number. Each additional property monitor will require you to login again. For further information click here.
You can add a restriction to the title of your property. There is no fee for this service if the restriction is placed at the time of the purchase, otherwise it is £20.00. By adding the restriction, additional responsibilities will be placed on the Solicitor acting on a sale as the title will contain the following clause – “No disposition of the registered estate by the proprietor of the registered estate is to be registered without a certificate signed by a Conveyancer that the Conveyancer is satisfied that the person who executed the document submitted for registration as disponor is the same person as the proprietor.” Click here for more information.