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Property Transfer scams and how to protect yourself

It never ceases to amaze me the lengths desperate people are prepared to go to in order to steal from others. The property transfer scams are some of the most dangerous of all because such large sums are involved.

Since September 2009, HM Land Registry has blocked hundreds of fraudulent property transfers from being registered.

You may have heard about some of these scams in the press where people have been duped into signing documents that transfer the ownership of their houses to fraudsters.

It’s not that uncommon nowadays for someone to steal your identity and then mortgage or even sell your property without your knowledge.

A simple and cost-effective way to counter this activity is to register your house with the award-winning Property Alert Service.

This free service is provided via HM Land Registry.

It allows you to:-

  • Monitor a property already registered with HM Land Registry or
  • Monitor the property of a relative – you don’t have to own a property to set up an alert

To access this online service, visit https://propertyalert.landregistry.gov.uk/

Here are the key things you need to know about this alert service:

  • The property you wish to monitor must be situated in England or Wales and registered with HM Land Registry
  • You must create a Property Alert account in order to use the service
  • You will receive a HM Land Registry email (don’t forget to check your spam inbox if it doesn’t arrive) to enable you to verify your email details
  • Email alerts are sent out every time an official search or application is received against a monitored property
  • If you receive an alert about activity that seems suspicious you should take swift action. The alert email will signpost you as to who you need to contact
    .
  • You don’t have to own a property to set up an alert on it
  • One property can be monitored by many different people and each person can monitor up to 10 properties.
  • Property, especially flats/apartments, can be registered with two titles. Blocks of flats are often owned by companies (Freehold) with a person owning the leasehold title of the individual flat. When registering for this service you’ll probably need to choose Leasehold title to monitor an individual flat or apartments.
  • There is also a way to receive alerts if you don’t want to use a computer; call the Property Alert team on 0300 006 0478.

Once you have registered a property, HM Land Registry will send you an email alert each time there is any activity recorded against the property you are monitoring, such as when a new mortgage is registered against it.

The alert will tell you the type of activity (such as an application to change the register or a notification that an application may be due), show you who the applicant is and the date and time the application has been received.

Signing up to receive Property Alerts won’t automatically stop fraudulent activity but it will at least put you on warning that something is worth checking.

You can then decide whether or not the activity on the property may be fraudulent and act quickly if it seems suspicious.

Not all alert emails will highlight fraudulent activity, some may be genuine changes but if you don’t think the alert email is about any suspicious activity, you don’t need to do anything.

Better safe than sorry!

Avatar for Jon Pryse-Jones
About Jon Pryse-Jones

Since joining THP in 1978, Jon Pryse-Jones has been hands on with every area of the business. Now specialising in strategy, business planning, and marketing, Jon remains at the forefront of the growth and development at THP.

An ideas man, Jon enjoys getting the most out of all situations, “I act as a catalyst for creative people and encourage them to think outside the box,” he says, “and I’m not afraid of being confrontational. It often leads to a better result for THP and its clients.”

Jon’s appreciation for THP extends to his fellow team members and the board.  “They really know how to run a successful business,” he says.  He’s keen on IT and systems development as critical to success, and he continues to guide THP to be at the cutting edge and effective.

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