The importance of an anti-fraud restriction in light of the current climate

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Article

02 June, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has seen a surge in coronavirus-related scams. With fraudsters exploiting Covid-19 fears, now more than ever is the time to ensure that your property is adequately protected against property fraud.

Property fraud can be committed on any type of property. However, the Land Registry identifies the following key factors which are likely to increase the risk of property fraud:

  • your identity has been stolen
  • you rent out your property
  • you live overseas
  • the property is empty
  • the property is not mortgaged
  • the property is not registered with HM Land Registry

Protecting your property from property fraud is important as many individuals are unaware that the information held by the Land Registry is available to view by anyone, including fraudsters, via the Land Registry website. As a result, fraudsters can easily establish: the property owner, their correspondence address, lender details and in some cases samples of the property owner's signature. Consequently, fraudsters can therefore impersonate a property owner in the attempt to fraudulently sell or re-mortgage a property.

The Land Registry advises that one of the main ways to protect your property from being fraudulently sold or mortgaged is by entering an anti-fraud restriction on the title register. An anti-fraud restriction will require that any application to change the property register is accompanied by a certificate from a conveyancer or solicitor stating that they are satisfied that the person who has signed the documents is the same person registered as the registered proprietor on the title register.

Ultimately, this restriction acts as a deterrent to fraudsters as the presence of an anti-fraud restriction indicates that the title register cannot be altered without independent certification of your identity by your solicitor.

However, you should note that whilst the presence of an anti-fraud restriction significantly reduces the risk of property fraud, this could potentially cause some delay or additional expense when you come to deal with the property yourself due to the additional Land Registry requirements. Though your solicitor should be able to deal with these extra requirements fairly quickly and at low cost.

Additionally, the Land Registry also provides a Property Alert service to support you in the fight against Property Fraud. Once you have registered to the service, you will be notified by email when certain activity occurs on your property, allowing you to take action if necessary. The service allows you to monitor up to ten properties and will signpost you to the relevant contact if you do not recognise an application that has been made to the Land Registry.

If you think you may be at risk or would like to protect your land or property from property fraud using an anti-fraud restriction and the Property Alert Service, please contact us on 0333 207 1130 and request to speak to a member of the Commercial Property team, where we can offer you a fixed fee of £99 plus VAT and disbursements.

For more information contact Adam Bromley in our Commercial Property department via email or phone on 0333 207 1158. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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