According to Land Registry figures, since September 2009 the Land Registry has prevented frauds on over 160 applications representing properties valued in excess of £70 million and it is estimated that fraud currently costs the economy £70 billion pounds annually. As such, property fraud is a real concern for many property owners, particularly those who own tenanted, unoccupied or mortgage free properties which are known to be particularly vulnerable. Fraudsters may attempt to acquire property by using a forged document to transfer it into their names or by impersonating the registered owner. Once they have raised money by mortgaging the property without the owners’ knowledge they disappear without making repayments leaving the owner to deal with the consequences.
A company can now request a restriction be placed on the title to its properties. This is designed to help safeguard against forgery by requiring solicitors to certify that they are satisfied that the company transferring, leasing or mortgaging the property is the same company as the owner before any new sale, lease or mortgage is registered.
They must also certify that they have taken reasonable steps to establish that anyone who executed the deed on behalf of the company held the stated office at the time of execution.
There is no Land Registry fee for companies registering this restriction for up to three titles. Should a company require the restriction for more than three registered titles they may do so however this will be at a cost of £45 per registered title.
In addition to registering a restriction, companies can do the following in an effort to avoid being the victim of property fraud:
- Make sure all of your property is registered. Innocent victims of fraud who suffer a financial loss as a consequence may be compensated. If property is unregistered there is no mechanism for compensation to be paid by the Land Registry.
- Once the property is registered make sure up to date contact details are on the register so the Land Registry can reach you easily. Up to three addresses can be used including email addresses or an address abroad.
- Contact the Land Registry Property Fraud line on 0300 006 7030 if you think you are the victim of a property fraud immediately.
Private individuals can also protect their properties with a similar fee free restriction and can also sign up to the Land Registry’s Property Alert Scheme which is a free property monitoring scheme which will alert the owner every time the Land Registry receives official search requests or applications against monitored properties. Subscribers to the service can now have up to ten properties monitored and can add or delete the properties that are being monitored so long as the number does not exceed ten properties.
If you require any further information or wish to discuss this in further detail please contact Nicola Quigley on 01642 610345 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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