The ITV drama Our House premiered last week and starred Line of Duty actor Martin Compston and Whitechapel star Rupert Penry Jones. The programme followed an unusual story of a woman coming home to find out that she no longer owns her property. Many people are wondering if the drama was based on real life.
The programme is based on a best-selling novel of the same name by Louise Cavendish and whilst it is not a true story, the book was inspired by an element of truth and there have certainly been other property fraud cases reported in the media in recent times.
Fraudsters are always looking for new ways to obtain money by deception and are coming up with increasingly sophisticated ways to trick homeowners. Criminals are looking to capitalise on rising prices in the property market so homeowners should be on their guard.
The Land Registry was forced to pay out £3.5m in compensation to homeowners last year after approving fraudulent transactions, up two thirds on the prior year, and it has thwarted close to 200 other attempted frauds worth £115m since 2016.
So what can you do to protect yourself and your property?
- If your property is not yet registered with the Land Registry, consider voluntarily registering it. We explain the benefits of land registration further below.
- If your property is already registered with the Land Registry, make sure the address for service they hold for you is up to date and sign up for their Property Alert Service which is explained below.
- During a property transaction:
- Choose your Solicitor carefully. At Biscoes we are registered with the Law Society and we are Conveyancing Quality Scheme and Lexcel compliant. Also, our processes are designed to protect you from property fraud.
- Do not send your bank details by email during the transaction. Only provide your bank details in reply to a legitimate request, in hard copy or by phone.
- If you are buying a property, ask plenty of questions of the seller and any selling agent to verify that you consider the seller to be genuine. We will also consider the circumstances of transaction and ask additional questions as needed.
Registering your property with the Land Registry
HM Land Registry are responsible for registering ownership of land and property is England and Wales. Registering your property with the Land Registry provides the following benefits:
- gives you proof of ownership
- helps protect your property from fraud
- makes it easier to change, sell or give your property away in the future
- enables you to sign up to get property alerts from the Land Registry if someone applies to change the register of your property, for example if someone tries to use your property for a mortgage. This service does not automatically block changes but it alerts you when something changes so you can take action. This service can be particularly useful for Landlords as you can register up to 10 properties for free.
- enables you to enter a Restriction on the property’s title to stop HM Land Registry registering a sale or mortgage on your property unless a conveyancer or solicitor certifies the application was made by you.
If you would like to speak to a member of our friendly Residential Property team today about registering your property with the Land Registry, please contact us on 02392 660261.