In the last few years the Land Registry has had to deal with a great amount of increased activity and claims in relation to fraud. In 2004-5 there were just 15 claims for fraud against the Land Registry. In 2009 to 2010 this has risen to 53. This is another area of crime where the rewards are substantial and so it is on the increase.
One of our clients had it happen to him for a property worth £60,000.00.
Consequently the Land Registry have increased their security measures to try and combat this risk, however there is no guarantee that their heighten security will be successful in stopping all fraud.
The Land Registry on its website advises that it may offer compensation but advises that there is no definite entitlement to compensation. In a very high profile case recently land was stolen in Manchester worth more than £100 million pounds, which the fraudsters then mortgaged immediately. The courts have ruled that he is entitled to his land back but that he is responsible for the mortgage liability given on the land. This decision is to be appealed by the owner.
Who is at Risk?
Everyone who owns a property but especially:
- People who own their properties outright,
- Those who own property but either live abroad or spend substantial periods of time away from the property.
- Elderly people (particularly those in long term care, hospital or living abroad).
- Landlords who do not live in the property.
What can be done to safeguard your property?
The most effective ways is to prevent the cloning of your identity and shredding all documents that could be used.
Make sure that the Land Registry have up to date information as to where you are living, you can register up to 3 addresses including an address abroad or an e-mail address. There is no charge for updating the addresses.
It may be worth putting the address of a family member to increase the level of security.
Further measures to counter fraud.
You can add a restriction to the register of your property at the Land Registry which means that the Land Registry will not permit any Transfer or Mortgage of the legal title until it has received an assurance from a conveyancer or solicitor that the registered owner(s) have signed the Transfer Deed presented to them.
It is also possible to add a further Restriction that no transfer or mortgage is to be registered without the consent of your solicitors or conveyancer.
Should you wish to implement these additional security measures we will be happy to provide you with a quote for the work involved.