Real Estate Tip of the Week: Empty Properties – Fraud Risk

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Real Estate Tip of the Week: Empty Properties – Fraud Risk

Published 15 June 2020

Recorded incidents of property title fraud have been increasing in recent years with fraudsters targeting both companies and individuals. This often includes presentation of forged registration or identity documents in applications submitted to the Land Registry which, if successful, can result in a fraudster being able to gain control of title to a property.

It is worth noting that certain types of properties may be particularly vulnerable to title fraud, one example being vacant properties. There will currently be an increased number of properties where owners have had to leave their property, residential or commercial, empty while working from home, during lockdown at another property or while being unable to trade. Land Registry guidance highlights other potential circumstances where property might be at higher risk such as where the owner’s identity has been stolen; where property is tenanted; where property is of high value and not charged to a lender; where property is of high value and the owner lives overseas; and also where title is not registered.

There are some straightforward steps that can be taken to help minimise risk to title fraud if you fall into any of the above categories:

  • Ensure that any notification address (address for service) provided to the Land Registry is current. More than one address can be given.
  • Apply for noting of a restriction against the registered title. This can require a written consent from you before a transaction is processed.
  • Sign up to the Land Registry’s property alert service. If someone then applies to change the property’s title register, you will be notified.
  • Register title to your property if it is not already registered.

Authors

Simon Pickett

Simon Pickett

Bristol

+44 (0)117 918 2036

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