Fraud alerts help landlords fight property scammers
By Simon Thompson
The Land Registry is urging landlords to sign up for free to stop fraudsters hijacking their properties.
The £50 per property fee has been scrapped to encourage landlords, holiday home owners and other investors who live elsewhere from the property to join the title watch scheme.
The scheme that alerts owners when someone tries to transfer property ownership or register a charge without permission.
In 2010 alone, scammers tried to illegally take over around 70 properties - and owners ended up being paid 370 million in compensation from the Land Registry.
Under the scheme, lawyers must prove they have the permission of the real property owner before they can transfer title - and a message is sent to the owner tipping them off that someone is trying to access their data at the Land Registry.
Chief registrar Malcolm Dawson said: “We take the issue of fraud very seriously and do all we can to reduce the opportunities for fraud and to identify and take corrective action when it has happened.
"Today’s initiative is free for home owners who do not live at the property. It is designed to encourage those who feel their empty or tenanted property might be at risk, to do something to prevent it from being stolen unawares.
"We have introduced a range of additional checks and safeguards in the last four years and work closely with other organisations to do all we can to tackle fraud.”
Land Registry investigators have halted more than 100 suspected frauds involving properties valued at more than £47 million since September 2009.
Jonathan Smithers, who chairs the conveyancing and land law committee at the Law Society said: “We welcome this initiative by Land Registry. Empty or tenanted properties are more at risk than owner occupied homes and the introduction of this scheme will enable solicitors to help owners to protect their property from fraud and forgery.”
Absent property owners can sign up for the scheme by submitting a form downloaded from the Land registry web site [LINK: http://www1.landregistry.gov.uk/property-information/property-fraud ]
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