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Could fraudsters steal your home from under your nose?

View profile for Paula Bryan
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Is it really possible for fraudsters to steal your home? Alarmingly, the answer is yes and you may have seen recent reports in the media concerning this.

Please read on to see how this can happen and what you can do to lower your risk.

How can property title fraud happen?

By way of one example, in November 2021 the Reverend Mike Hall returned from a long work trip to find his property (that he had owned for 30 years) had been stolen by a fraudster and sold for £131,000.00 to a new owner. The first he knew of the transaction was when neighbours called him to say someone was in the house. When he arrived his front door key did not work and a stranger answered the front door!

Empty houses are targeted and fake ID’s created so that your home can potentially be sold.  Fake documents can be very convincing.

In this case, a duplicate driving licence and bank account were set up in the Reverend’s name and used to sell his house. When the house was sold to the new owner by the person impersonating the Reverend Hall, the property title at the Land Registry was updated making them the new legal owner.  The sale monies were sent into the new account which would have been opened using the fake ID.

The new owners had begun renovating the property totally unaware they had bought a house from someone who had no right to sell it to them.  Both the original homeowner and the new buyer had been left in an awful situation by the fraudster.

There are other similar cases to this unfortunately.


The thing that makes a property most vulnerable is if it is empty, if it is unregistered at the Land Registry or you do not live there.  So you could be at risk if the following applies to you;

  • regularly working away leaving your home empty
  • renting out your property whilst living abroad
  • if a relative is currently in a care home, leaving their property empty
  • if your property is unregistered at the Land Registry – this is more likely if the property has been in one ownership for very many years


  • Firstly, make sure your property is registered at the Land Registry. You can do this via the Land Registry Portal or we can check this easily for you.
  • If your property is registered, you can sign up to the Land Registry property alert.  You can do this here:  You can register up to 10 properties (provided they are in England and Wales), and you will receive an alert from the Land Registry should any official searches or applications be made.  The alert will advise you who you need to contact.
  • Make sure the Land Registry can contact you wherever you live.  This means making sure they have your up-to-date contact address (if you don’t live at the property) and advising them if this changes. They can hold up to 3 contact addresses including an email address and an address abroad.
  • You can also apply to the Land Registry for a restriction on the title to your property. This can stop the Land Registry registering a sale or mortgage on your property unless a conveyancer or solicitor certifies the application was made by you.  This adds in another level of ID security.
  • If your property is not registered at the Land Registry then arrange for it to be registered on a voluntary basis.  This makes the property less vulnerable to fraud in that restrictions can then be put onto the Land Registry’s records.  In unregistered land there is no digital record of the deeds – whilst it seems very old fashioned all you have with unregistered properties are paper deeds and documents. A fraudster could apply for first registration by setting up a fake ID and swearing a Declaration that the paper deeds were lost and they are the rightful owner.

If you would like Biscoes  to help you register your property or a restriction or advise on any conveyancing matter then please call our Property Team on 02392 660261.