It is now 6 months after the Land Registry launched their seemingly successful Property Alert service. They’ve recently reported in excess of 12,000 sign ups to the service, which allows property owners and professionals to receive alerts on a property when any conveyancing activity occurs.
The Property Alert is a free of charge service that’s been set up to help prevent property fraud. Over the last 5 years alone, the Land Registry have prevented over £66 million worth of property fraud transactions, and with the addition of this latest system, this figure is set to rise significantly.
Property fraud can happen at any time and is an instance when someone tries to steal the equity of an estate from the rightful owner. Those most at risk are:
- Rental Properties — with the owner living off premises, tenants may be able to claim ownership without the landlord’s knowledge.
- Vacant Properties — where the owner is no longer occupying the estate due to long-term circumstances.
- Households in dispute — partners or other inhabitants of the property may claim ownership.
- Properties that no longer have a mortgage.
To benefit from the Property Alert system, users simply need sign up to the service by opening an online account. Up to 10 properties can be monitored at one time and users will receive an email whenever the Land Registry receive an application to alter the registration details of the property. Alerts will also be received when any official searches on the property are carried out.
There are many ways properties can be protected from fraudulent activity. Homeowners should be given guidance from their solicitor or conveyancer on the steps they need to take. Security measures that can be carried out on a property include:
- Registering the property with the Land Registry.
- Ensuring the Land Registry hold up to date contact details of the legal owner.
- Enforcing restrictions on the property whereby a solicitor or conveyancer must certify the identification of the property owner before buying or selling activity commences.