Why You Need an Anti-Fraud Restriction on Your Property Title
Property title fraud has been on the increase in recent years, with fraudsters targeting properties that they can sell or mortgage by impersonating the registered proprietor. These types of property fraud are very difficult to spot as the fraudsters often have access to the property and change their name to match the true owner’s name.
HM Land Registry are taking steps to reduce the risks of this type of property fraud. One of the steps they have taken is to offer the option of registering a restriction against your own property. Anyone can request that the restriction is added to their title. However, you’re at more risk of fraud if:
- You live abroad
- You rent out the property to tenants
- The property is empty
- If the property isn’t mortgaged
A recent case involved a mother and daughter who were convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud. The mother changed her name to match the name of the registered owner of a London property.
The property was mortgage free and tenanted. She posed as the owner of the property and applied for a bridging loan of £1.2 million. The mortgage completed and the local company paid out the funds. Only later did the Land Registry identify that the transaction was fraudulent.
Another case involved a landlord who discovered that her tenant had stolen her identity - posing as the owner of the property and selling it without her knowledge.
What is the Anti-fraud Restriction?
The anti-fraud restriction is entered onto the title to the property and states that any application to change the register must be accompanied by a certificate from a Solicitor stating that they are satisfied that the person who has signed the documents is the same person as the registered proprietor.
This means that should the property be sold or mortgaged in the future, you’d need to obtain independent certification of your identity from a Solicitor. You should note that this potentially may cause some delay or additional expense when you come to deal with the property yourself due to the extra Land Registry requirements.
Another option is to sign up to the Land Registry’s free property monitoring service. This means that you will receive an email alert if an application is made to change the register. The alert service does not prevent changes from being made, but would let you know immediately so that prompt action can be taken.
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