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Fraud Hotline for homeowners

The issue of property fraud remains high on the agenda at Land Registry, as well with property professionals such as ourselves.

On a daily basis we face challenges in establishing the identities of everyone involved in any property transaction. That doesn’t just mean the people buying and selling homes but includes their professional representatives, as well as the sources of the money changing hands. Believe it or not, we regularly catch cases where there has been attempted fraud, with examples including fake sellers, fake representatives, and fake documents.

The latest initiative from Land Registry is a fraud hotline for use by property owners who fear their property may be subject to a fraudulent sale or mortgage. The number is:0300 006 7030 from 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday. It is also possible to make a report online via the Land Registry’s website .

Property is most at risk of fraud when it is empty or not occupied by the owner, such as those owned by buy-to let landlords, or those living abroad .

Owners can reduce the risk by ensuring that their address in their title register is kept up to date. Up to 3 addresses can be given for service. Up to 2 of these can be email addresses. A none UK address can be given, or a ‘care of address’. The care of address could be that of a professional adviser. These are then used by the Land Registry to contact the owner if necessary. In addition, owners may include in their title a ‘restriction’ requiring the Land Registry not to register any change to the title (i.e a change of ownership or a mortgage) without the consent of a specified person.

Most applications to change the title are dealt with by conveyancers who carry out identity checks against their clients. As such, these applications should carry less risk of fraud for the Land Registry.

Applications, however, can be made in person. In these cases the Land Registry will serve notice of the application to change the title to the registered owner using the address or addresses in the register. In these cases therefore it is vital that the contact details are up to date.

Need more information ?

Information is available from Land Registry

Or, please speak to your usual Wards contact, or email Susan Ellis on susan.ellis@wards.uk.com.

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