HM Land Registry’s property alert service is a free (for up to 10 registered properties) service to help protect property from fraud. The counter-fraud security measure was introduced by the Land Registry to monitor registered properties, where there is a concern that it might be subject to a fraudulent sale or mortgage.
The property alert service can be used to monitor any property in England or Wales that is registered with the Land Registry. Once registered, owners or other interested parties will receive email alerts when certain activity occurs on their monitored properties, allowing them to take action if necessary. For example, this could be an alert that a new mortgage has been taken out.
Tenanted, unoccupied and mortgage-free properties have been known to be particularly vulnerable to fraud. Fraudsters can attempt to acquire ownership of a property either by using a forged document to transfer it into their own name, or by impersonating the registered owner. They can then use this bogus evidence to support a mortgage application. Once the mortgage is completed the offender disappears, leaving the property owner to pay the bill.
Since September 2009, HM Land Registry has prevented 254 fraudulent applications being registered, representing properties valued in excess of £117m. Private owners and companies who feel their property might be at risk can also apply to have a restriction entered on their title register, which is designed to help prevent forgery.
This is a worthwhile option for home owners and landlords.