In an age of growing cybercrime, fraud and money laundering, more than 50,000 home owners have signed up to the Land Registry’s free Property Alert Service since its introduction in March 2014. This free service is one of a number of measures introduced by the Land Registry in an aim to help the public protect themselves from fraud.
According to the Office for National Statistics, fraud increased by 4% in the year ending March 2016 compared with the previous year. It is now more important than ever to be cautious and vigilant when it comes to protecting your assets.
The Land Registry’s innovative system allows home owners to detect fraudulent activity as early as possible by sending them email alerts when certain activity is carried out on the monitored property. Monitored activities includes a mortgage being taken out against the property, or an application to change the ownership details.
Each home owner can monitor up to ten registered properties in England and Wales. This is particularly useful for Landlords as rented out properties are more at risk. A property is also more likely to be targeted by fraudsters if the property is empty, there is no mortgage secured against the property, and if it is not registered at Land Registry.
Although the Property Alert Service is a great tool to provide early warnings of suspicious activity, it does not automatically prevent fraud from happening. It does not prevent an action from taking place, but notifies the owner as soon as a regulated activity is attempted.
There are a number of options for those looking to safeguard their property investment.
Landlords are strongly advised to have a Restriction entered against the property which prevents disposal of the property without a certificate signed by the conveyancer. This certificate confirms that the conveyancer is satisfied the person signing the documentation is the registered owner. This effectively eliminates the risk that the property can be sold from under the owner without their knowledge.
A Restriction can be also be entered against the property even if a property owner lives at the property they own. This is an inexpensive method to safeguard the property and give peace of mind.
As solicitors we are taking fraud and money laundering checks very seriously. Since 2009, the Land Registry has stopped fraud on properties worth more the £92 million.
Rudlings Wakelam solicitors offer a complete service to property owners. If you are buying a property, we can enter a Restriction when we transfer the property in to your name on completion of the purchase. Alternatively, if you are worried that a property you already own may be at higher risk of fraudulent activity, you can instruct us to add the Restriction and assist you in signing up to the Property Alert Service.
If you are a property owner, or in the process of purchasing a property and would like to receive friendly & helpful advice, please contact one of our offices.