Homeowners anxious to beat fraudsters getting hold of their property can sign up for the Land Registry’s free property alert service.
Fraudsters can try to “steal” a property by stealing the homeowner’s identity and selling or mortgaging the property without their knowledge and then making off with the money.
But the Land Registry’s initiative, which was launched in March 2014 and allows homeowners to monitor up to 10 properties, sends people email alerts when there is financial activity on their property – for instance, if a mortgage has been taken out against it or if there has been an application to change the ownership details.
If the activity is suspicious, the property owner can contact the Land Registry’s fraud line (0300 006 7030) or email email@example.com.
More than 50,000 property owners have signed up for the service to date, which you can sign up to via the Land Registry's website.
‘Protect yourself from property fraud’
The Land Registry suggests that homeowners are more at risk if their property is rented out; is empty; is mortgage free or isn’t registered with the Land Registry.
It highlights the case of a landlord who signed up for the property alert as he was renting out a property in England while he lived overseas. When he received an email telling him that a mortgage application worth over £300,000 had been made against his property, he contacted the Land Registry’s fraud line, which investigated and stopped the mortgage application from being registered.
Alasdair Lewis, director of legal services at the Land Registry, says: “Property is usually our most valuable asset, so it’s important to protect it from the ever-increasing risk of fraud. Land Registry is doing all it can to detect and prevent fraud, but no system can be 100% fraud-proof, which is why we urge people to follow our advice about protecting themselves from property fraud, including signing up for property alert.”