Property and registration fraud practice note

Property and registration fraud practice note

The Law Society and the Land Registry have joined together to produce a joint practice note designed to help solicitors make their clients more aware of how they may protect their property interests against fraud and safeguard their rights as legitimate property owners on the register. In addition, two public guides are also available from Land Registry to help property owners protect themselves.

Conveyancing solicitors and Land Registry want the public to be aware how fraudsters are targeting the properties of both individuals and companies. The warning comes amid an increasing number of attacks involving identity and other types of fraud and the presentation of forged documents.

The note highlights certain categories of property owners that may be particularly susceptible to registration frauds often own properties without a mortgage making them easier targets for fraudsters. They include:

  • elderly owners who are in hospital or have moved into long term care leaving their homes unoccupied,
  • home owners who live abroad, and
  • absent landlords.

In addition, the practice note states, those who have already been the victim of identity fraud may be at greater risk, as well as executors or administrators responsible for a property where the owner has died and the property is not yet sold.

Law Society President Linda Lee said,

“Land and buildings are usually the most valuable assets people own. They can be sold and mortgaged to raise money and can therefore be attractive targets for fraudsters. Solicitors are qualified in all areas of property law and are there to help you avoid potential problems and to protect your interests at every step. Solicitors are best placed to conduct conveyancing transactions and will be reminding property owners of their role in helping to prevent fraud and to protect their ownership in the same way that they protect their other most valuable possessions.”

Marco Pierleoni, Chief Land Registrar and Chief Executive of Land Registry added,

?This is the first time Land Registry has collaborated with the Law Society in this way and demonstrates that we are committed to combating fraud by working with a wide variety of organisations.

?Our increased investment in counter-fraud measures has already resulted in preventing fraud attempts against properties valued at an estimated ?20m. We hope this initiative will continue this trend by highlighting the importance to solicitors of being vigilant against the many ways in which fraudsters target the properties of vulnerable home owners.?

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