As safe as houses? Not necessarily.
July is Scams Awareness Month.
It will come as no surprise to many that fraudsters can and do target property for fraud and in fact property fraud is on the increase, so it is increasingly important to protect yourself and your asset.
Your property and you are more at risk if your property is:
Mortgage free; or
Not registered at the HM Land Registry
So the next question is how can you reduce the risk of being a victim of property fraud? There are several different things that you can do to lower the risk.
Sign up to the FREE property alert service offered by the Land Registry. This is a free service which will notify you of certain applications affecting the property you are monitoring, such as a change in ownership or a new mortgage. You can monitor up to 10 properties and you do not need to be the owner, particularly useful if you have elderly relatives for whose property you would also like to monitor. To sign up to Property Alert, visit https://propertyalert.landregistry.gov.uk/. Its incredibly simple to do and very quick. (I tried it for myself before saying this.)
Keep your contact details up to date with the Land Registry. The Land Registry will have an address for service recorded on their registers. If you move, tell them, do not assume that they will work it out for themselves. You can register up to 3 addresses for service including an email address, so maybe as well as your home address, you should consider adding another family member's address and your personal email address.
Ensure your property is registered so that you can be compensated if you are a victim of fraud and suffer finacial loss. Those properties that are likely to be unregistered are those that have not changed hands or been mortgaged since 1990. You can do this yourself and information on how to is at https://www.gov.uk/registering-land-or-property-with-land-registry/register-for-the-first-time. Alternatively you can ask a solicitor or conveyancer to do it for you.
Apply for a restriction to help prevent forgery. Doing this can stop a transfer or mortgage of your property unless a conveyancer or solicitor certifies the application was made by you. Thois restriction can be added onto the title at any time during ownership and can be done by yourself but is normally best done by a solicitor or conveyancer.
The Land Registry has lots of online information to help you avoid becoming a victim of property fraud and I would really recommend that you read their property fraud advice at https://www.gov.uk/protect-land-property-from-fraud and take the time to watch their short property fraud video.
If you need help in applying for a voluntary first registration or in applying a restriction against your property Vanessa Newman Property Lawyers will be pleased to assist. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be able to give you a quote for the work.