News | July 11, 2022

Property Fraud and the Land Registry Property Alert service

The Land Registry holds a central register of all registered properties in England and Wales. Legal ownership of a property is evidenced by the name on the proprietorship register of the Land Registry’s official copies of the title to the property. This is updated following any sales or mortgages of properties.

This may sound fairly foolproof, however, cases of property fraud are on the rise particularly in the UK in the last few years. 

The groups most at risk from property fraud tend to be those:

  • who have been the victim of identity theft;
  • who do not live at the property and it is rented;
  • whose property is empty;
  • who live overseas; and
  • who do not have a mortgage registered against the property.

Fortunately, the Land Registry launched a free Property Alert service in March 2014: Once signed up, property owners will be alerted if anybody applies to the Land Registry to alter the official copies for their property, such as registering a transfer or mortgage against it.

Whilst this alert will not automatically stop any attempt to alter the register, property owners will be made aware of such an attempt and be able to take action against it by contacting a solicitor and the Land Registry. It is therefore advisable for all property owners to sign up to this free service, particularly if their property is empty and where there is no mortgage.