A new guide to help homeowners avoid property title fraud, where home ownership can be stolen, has been released by the Fraud Advisory Panel, HM Land Registry and the Law Society of England and Wales.
In the financial year 2020/21 HM Land Registry received 22 claims for indemnity in relation to property title fraud and paid out £3.5m worth of compensation for these claims. People who own houses that are standing empty are particularly vulnerable to this type of fraud, as are properties which have a high value, are not mortgaged, or whose owners have recently died.
The guide gives people who own a property, or who are thinking of buying one, four steps to take to protect themselves from this type of fraud. These are: Ensure your property is registered with HM Land Registry, keep your registered details up to date in case HM Land Registry need to send you official letters or notices, sign up to HM Land Registry’s free online property alert service, which will give an immediate notification if someone tries to change the register for your property, and lastly, if you’re at particular risk of property fraud, you can apply for a restriction on your title so a conveyancer will need to formally certify any sale.