Are you a landlord or is your property left empty?
If so then your property is at risk of property fraud...
The City law firm Mischon de Reya has been ordered to pay one million pounds to their client who was tricked into buying a property in London from a rogue tenant who had posed as the owner.
The ruling was granted following a number of recent cases in which fraudsters first steal a homeowner's identity and then sell or mortgage a property which they do not legally own. The homeowner may find that their property has been sold without them knowing and innocent buyers are then left with a mortgage for a property that they have no right to.
Although in the Mischon case the buyer has received some compensation (it is unclear if future victims will be as lucky), both the homeowner and buyer have been exposed to a great deal of litigation, wasted time and distress.
You are most at risk of this kind of fraud if your property is rented out, empty (if you are abroad or in a care home) mortgage free or unregistered, but there are a number of simple steps that you can take to help protect your property which are:
1. Make sure that your property is registered;
2. Make sure your contact details are up to date with the Land Registry;
3. Sign up to the Land Registry's free Property Alert Service - this sends out free notifications if certain activity occurs on a registered property and can be found at www.propertyalert.landregistry.gov.uk;
4. Register a restriction against your property which prevents any activity being taken on your property without yours or your conveyancer's confirmation that the application was made by you. You are only able to do this if you do not live in the property that you wish to protect.
If you would like to discuss any of the above then please feel free to contact a member of our residential property department who would be happy to talk things through.