For most of us, our home is the most valuable thing we own. However, given how much money can be raised by selling or re-mortgaging a property, we can’t afford to forget it is just as valuable to fraudsters. But how do you protect yourself against property fraud?
It is nothing new for fraudsters to impersonate the owner of a residential property so they can sell or mortgage the property without the real owners knowing then disappearing into thin air (and onto their next victim) with the money.
Perhaps you are the owner of a property abroad, are currently residing in a care home, let your property to tenants or have paid off your mortgage? The properties most vulnerable to mortgage fraud are those which are empty, tenanted and mortgage free.
To reduce the threat faced by the most vulnerable property owners – those who own empty, rented out or mortgage free properties, the Land Registry has introduced a new ‘LL’ restriction.
If you are an absent owner (i.e. you are living abroad or with relatives or are resident in a care home) there is no cost for applying for a Form LL restriction using form RQ.
If you do live at your property, you can still apply for a Form LL using form RX1 but will need to pay a one off fee of £50.
Once the restriction is in place, selling or mortgaging the property will require a solicitor or conveyancer to formally confirm they are satisfied the owner involved is the true owner.
A Form LL restriction is registered against a property to help protect you against fraud. Currently it’s neither mandatory nor an official part of the conveyancing process but if you have it in place, a fraudster will be unable to sell your property without your knowledge because, as it says in the restriction:
“No disposition of the registered estate by the proprietor of the registered estate is to be registered without a certificate signed by a conveyancer that the conveyancer is satisfied that the person who executed the document submitted for registration as disponor is the same person as the proprietor.”
We’d say yes, definitely.
Because tenants are onsite – often for extensive periods of time – and can be privy to their landlord’s personal details, they are often the most likely people to attempt to sell or re-mortgage a property.
As such putting a Form LL restriction in place will provide a much needed additional layer of protection against possible property fraud.
Unfortunately, instances of property fraud are on the rise in the UK following the following tips will help you protect yourself against property fraud:
1. Register your property
2. Make sure the Land Registry has your most up to date contact details
3. Register for the Land Registry’s Property Alert service
4. Think about backing the three previous steps up with a Form LL restriction
If you would like us to help you put a Form LL restriction in place to protect you against the threat of property fraud (or if you have any other questions regarding moving house), please email me at Jeremy.Tulloch@collinshoy.com or call me on 0208 515 6600.