News update - March 2011 - Target Properties for Fraud

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Target Properties Susceptible to Fraud & Actions to Prevent


 

1. A property that was last sold or purchased before 2003


Pre 2003, most properties sold would have been transacted with a paper based system that recorded basic owner details such as name, date of birth, and service address (e.g. the owner’s address if not actually living at the property). Post 2003 new systems and processes have been introduced where more comprehensive owner information is held at Land Registry.

2. A property that does not have a mortgage or other secured debt or other charge against the title.


If a property has a charge on the title register, such has a mortgage, then it becomes more complex for the fraudster as the solicitor will need to contact the mortgage company who in turn will contact the mortgagee and thus alert them of the pending sale.

Thus a property with a third party charge against the title is less susceptible to fraud.

3. A property that has an out of date service address on the land registry title.


The service address is that used by Land Registry to contact the owner, as would happen when a property is sold.  If the owner can not be contacted at the service address then they will not be alerted of the pending sale.  Worse still, if the service address is the property itself, and the owner lives at another location, then the fraudster is able to reply to the Land Registry communications to help perpetuate the fraud.

4. A property where the owner is absent


In most cases this is likely to be a buy-to-let property where the tenant has recently moved out, or possibly a property undergoing development.  The main requirement for the fraudster is to have access to any post and a period where the property is vacant so they can show it to potential buyers.



Actions to help prevent a fraud


The most important action anyone can take is to maintain up to date information at Land Registry.

The service address for the property must be the address at which you (or a trusted representative) can receive confidential written communication from Land Registry. By default the service address is normally the property itself unless Land Registry are instructed otherwise.

If you have "paper deeds" for your property then these are effectively "out of date" as Land Registry now maintain data electronically. Also, for most properties purchased before 2003 the title register may only contain very basic owner identity information. It is vitally important to maintain full and accurate identity information for the property title register, if in doubt you should contact Land Registry to ensure your full identity details are maintained on the register.

 

Further information links:

Land Registry Act 2002
Identity and financial checks

 

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