• Protecting Yourself from Property Fraud
  • August 2, 2014
  • Law Firm: Withers Bergman LLP - New Haven Office
  • The Property Alert Service

    Property Alert is a free property-monitoring service aimed at anyone who feels their registered property could be at risk from fraud. You can register up to three properties to be monitored and if an official search or application is received against one of the monitored properties, you will be sent an email alert.

    Restrictions

    If you are a property owner who does not live at the registered property, you can apply to the Land Registry for a 'restriction' to be registered against the title (free of charge) which would prevent a dealing with the property, for example a transfer or mortgage, from being registered unless a solicitor certifies that they have checked the identity of the person who has signed the deed.

    Owner occupiers can apply for a different form of restriction which would prevent the registration of a sale or mortgage unless a solicitor has certified that the person who has signed the deed is the registered owner.

    The Land Registry has also introduced a free service for companies with registered property: an application can be made to enter a counter-fraud restriction on up to three registered titles. Once this restriction is registered, it requires a solicitor to certify that they are satisfied that the company transferring or mortgaging the property is the same company as the owner and that they have taken reasonable steps to establish that anyone who executed the deed on behalf of the company held the stated office (i.e. director, secretary or manager) at the time of execution.

    These measures could help to prevent a fraudster forging a signature.

    Summary of what a property owner can do to prevent fraud:

    • Register your property with the Land Registry
    • Keep your details in the register up to date
    • Put a restriction on your title
    • Sign up to the Land Registry's Property Alert Service

    You should also be careful what you sign. If you are not sure what you are being asked to sign or what its legal effect may be, professional advice should be sought from a legal adviser.