15 - 23 Hagley Road
Worrying statistics have revealed that there has been a significant rise in fraudulent activities relating to property transactions. Since 2009, HM Land Registry has prevented a total of 254 fraudulent applications being processed. As a result of this Solicitors have to exercise a great deal of care when dealing with property transactions.
The Law Society and HM Land Registry combined efforts recently and issued an advice note to Solicitors to help eliminate property fraud. There are various methods in which the fraudsters are targeting Solicitor’s firms; however it is important to remind our clients of how they can also be targeted.
Anyone who owns or is in the process of buying a home could potentially be targeted by scams, but some homeowners are more at risk than others.
There are certain types of property that are vulnerable to property fraud and these are as follows:-
· Unoccupied properties, whether residential or commercial
· Tenanted properties
· High value properties without a mortgage
· High value properties with a mortgage in favour of an individual living overseas
· Properties undergoing redevelopment.
· Unregistered Properties
How can we help and the options available to you?
At the beginning of the year, there was a high profile case of a buyer purchasing a high net worth property from the tenant who had posed as the legal owner.
To help avoid this situation arising, we could register a restriction against the property. By registering this restriction, this would ensure that on the sale of a property that a Solicitor/Conveyancer certifies that the application is being made by the Seller.
Additionally we would strongly recommend that you sign up to the HM Land Registry Property Alerts scheme. If there is an application received by the Land Registry in relation to your property they will send you a text message alert. You would then need to take the necessary action. This is service is free and more details can be found on the Property alerts section of the Land Registry website.
The HM Land Registry estimates that, in 2016, there are around one million unregistered residential properties in England and Wales. If fraud is successfully perpetrated against an unregistered property, you would not be able to claim the state guarantee of title. There would be no indemnity payable. We could make that first application for registration on your behalf to reduce the possibility of you being targeted by the fraudster.
If you find yourself the victim of vendor fraud, taking legal action to recover your losses can be a complex, timely and expensive process, therefore prevention may turn out to be the best cure.
For further information please contact our Domestic Conveyancing team on 01384 371622.