The value of successful property frauds tripled between 2013 and 2017 from £7million to £25million obtained by fraudsters, according to ABC Finance. It is expected that these numbers have risen considerably further since then due to the more sophisticated techniques available to fraudsters and the impact of the pandemic. But what exactly is property title fraud? Our conveyancing solicitors Essex team explains and provides advice on how to stay protected.
If you own a property, then title fraud could occur if a criminal poses as you in order to transfer, sell or mortage your property without your knowledge or consent. In some cases, fraudsters even manage to produce documentary evidence to mortgage companies or potential buyers to demonstrate proof of consent.
Unfortunately, the impact of the pandemic means that there are a rising number of vacant properties in the UK, which have been prime targets for fraudsters who want to exploit these unoccupied buildings.
Anyone who is a property owner could potentially be hit by title fraud. However, there are various categories of people who are more at risk than others. These include:
It’s worth noting that all properties will be registered with HM Land Registry if you have bought or mortgaged since 1998. If you don’t fall into this category, then you can always search the register to check if your property is currently listed. If not, our conveyancing solicitors Essex can provide guidance about how to arrange this.
To help prevent property title fraud, the HM Land Registry has set up a system which will automatically alert you if someone is attempting to transfer or sell your property. The system will not prevent someone from proceeding, but they will tell you if an application has been made against your title so that you’re able to take immediate action. For landlords with a range of properties in a portfolio, you can place up to 10 alerts on properties without paying a fee.
You don’t need to be a property owner in order to register for this service. For example, if you have an elderly relative who you’re worried may be targeted by fraudsters, then you can set up a property alert to provide you with peace of mind.
An advanced option to take is to place a restriction on your property title. This step ensures that your property cannot be sold or mortgaged without a solicitor officially certifying that you’re the owner, which acts as an additional layer of security against fraudsters.
If you are concerned about property title fraud, or wish to explore placing restrictions on the title, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our conveyancing solicitors Essex team at Hook & Partners. We’re available on 01268 692 255 today.