Despite approximately 80% of all property in England and Wales already being registered or recorded at H M Land Registry, unfortunately, fraudulent property transactions do still occur.
The requirement of a physical, papered Deed to prove ownership of land is a thing of the past. Once a property is recorded by HM Land Registry, evidence of your ownership is as simple as obtaining a certificate from the Registry to show that you are named in a specific property. Land Registry records are public registers and anyone can access them for a small fee.
Unfortunately, there have been some instances where fraudsters have been able to acquire a homeowner’s identity and in some cases refinancing or even selling the person’s home.
It is vital, therefore, that measures are taken to ensure that your property records are protected. We at Taylor Walton can offer suggestions to protect against fraudulent activity.
We recommend that your ownership records held at the Land Registry are kept up to date. The main measure is to ensure that your correspondence address that is kept by the Land Registry is current. The Land Registry will allow you to record up to three contact addresses including email addresses. In the event that the Land Registry needs to contact you it is vital that they are able to do so at your current address, be it postal or email. There may be occasions where the Land Registry do need to contact you and if an old address is listed at the Land Registry, their attempts to contact you could go unanswered.
In addition, the Land Registry offer a Property Alert service. This service is hoped to help combat property fraud by alerting homeowners at an early stage should the Land Registry receive a particular kind of approach or communication about your property. For example, there are certain steps that a solicitor would need to undertake when dealing with a property, one measure is to notify the Land Registry in advance that they will be receiving an application to change a property record. With the Property Alert service, the Land Registry will notify the homeowner direct if any communication is received in this way. Should the homeowner then suspect anything untoward is happening, for example if the alert shows a change which has nothing to do with the homeowner, then the Land Registry can be contacted to alert them of an issue, which could lead to preventing a fraud.