Properties most vulnerable to fraud are usually empty, tenanted or mortgage free. Home owners at high risk of fraud include individuals who are absent, for example those who may be in long term hospital or residential care, or those people who live abroad.
In 2010, 30 of the 71 claims paid out by Land Registry for fraud and forgery were by non-family members. Of these, 23 involved properties with an absent owner and amounted to £2m out of the total £7.3m paid for fraud and forgery claims.
Land Registry’s top tips to help owners protect their property from fraudsters are:
- First of all make sure your property is registered. If you become an innocent victim of fraud and suffer a financial loss as a consequence, you will be compensated.
- Once registered make sure your contact details are up-to-date so we can reach you easily.
- You can have up to three addresses on the register; email addresses or an address abroad can be used. The more information you provide, the more chance we have of reaching you if we need to.
- Owners who feel their property might be at risk can have a restriction entered on their property which is designed to help prevent forgery by requiring a solicitor or conveyancer to certify they are satisfied that the person selling or mortgaging the property is the true owner.
Malcolm Dawson, chief Land Registrar said: 'Today’s launch of our ’Top Tips’ shows how important it is to let home owners know what simple steps they can take to protect their property - one of which is now the ability for those at greatest risk to have a free restriction entered which might prevent their property from being targeted by fraudsters and stolen unawares.
'We have introduced a range of additional safeguards in the last four years and we also work closely with other organisations to do all we can to tackle fraud and identify and take corrective action when it has happened. But home owners must also be vigilant and play their own part in protecting their properties against fraud.'
If you would like to find out more about home owner fraud then visit the Land Registry website @ http://www.landreg.gov.uk
Sources: Land Registry