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Halloween is a spooky time of the year when attempts to scare us are part of the fun but the growing problem of property fraud is no laughing matter. Sheena Aston, Partner and Head of the Property Law Team at Lamb Brooks in Basingstoke, explains the risk factors and what you can do to protect yourself from a house of horrors.

 

Between September 2009 and September 2016, the Land Registry were forced to intervene in over 200 transactions to prevent fraud on properties, valued at more than £92 million.

 

Those in the most vulnerable position include people who have had their identity stolen, rent out their property, own property in the UK but live overseas, leave their property empty for periods of time or do not have a mortgage on their property.

There are several steps you can take to protect yourself and reduce the risk of fraud occurring.

  • Ensuring your property is registered with the Land Registry so that any attempt to sell, mortgage or otherwise deal with the property requires an application to be made. Registration with the Land Registry now occurs automatically for properties bought or mortgaged but for properties that have not changed hands or been mortgaged for a period of time an application will have to be made.
 
  • Ensuring that the details the Land Registry have about you are correct and kept up-to-date.
 
  • Signing up for the Land Registry’s free Property Alert Service. You can put alerts in place for up to 10 properties, which makes it useful for those with a portfolio of buy-to-let or investment properties.
 

If you think you may have been the victim of property fraud you should contact the Land Registry’s Property Fraud Line straightaway. You should also contact your solicitor to see if there is anything you can do to stop the fraud, recover any money that has been lost or claim compensation.

For more information on property fraud and how to prevent it, please contact Sheena Aston on 01256 305536 or email sheena.aston@lambbrooks.com

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.