Whilst identity crime is now commonplace in our technology-driven society, many people are unaware that property can also be subject to ‘identity’ fraud.
Despite property being the most valuable asset most people will own many are still careless with land and buildings. It is highly advisable for owners of large portfolios to ensure that their land is registered.
This procedure can be dealt with at relatively low cost and ensures the Land Registry has a computerised record of the title to the land and any mortgages affecting it. It also ensures that intruders hoping to claim possession of swaths of land will find the task more difficult.
Even if you do not consider yourself property-rich many people now own a holiday home (particularly in the Lake District). If this has been in the family for some time it may not be registered and, even if it is registered, it is important to be vigilant to avoid fraud. It is not unheard of for unscrupulous individuals to attempt a registration of a property under a different name before mortgaging it and disappearing with the cash.
Therefore, absent property owners should be careful to visit their property regularly and to keep a list of properties which they own and the registered title details for each.
Where you have a portfolio of properties, instructing your solicitor to perform checks on the titles is good practice to ensure the addresses for service of notices remain correct. It is also prudent to provide more than one address for service, perhaps giving your solicitor’s office address so that he/she is alerted to any attempt to deal with the title.
We recommend that, once your property is registered, you also register with the Land Registry for its Property Alert service, so that you will be notified if any applications are made in respect of your registered title. This can be done at https://propertyalert.landregistry.gov.uk/ and is another step to preventing fraud being committed against you.
If you would like to discuss the registration of your property, Milne Moser’s conveyancing solicitors will be happy to discuss your requirements so that you and your property remain secure.
Ian Jenkinson, Associate Solicitor