Industry News

Land Registry Property Alert Service

09 December 2016

With online scams hitting the headlines almost on a daily basis, property owners should be made aware of the Land Registry's Property Alert Service, which can be an extremely useful early warning system about any suspicious activity affecting their property.

The service enables you to monitor up to 10 properties and notifies proprietors by email or letter of any significant activity, such as a new charge or transfer of the freehold or leasehold being registered. Up to 3 contact addresses (postal and/or email) may be given per property and it is obviously important to keep these up to date. It is also preferable for at least one of these contact addresses to be email, due to the urgency of any action, which may be required if a fraud is in progress. Those subscribing to the Property Alert Service should also ensure any emails from the Land Registry are not filtered into their spam Outlook folder or that such folder is checked regularly. 

Clearly, the service is dependent on properties being registered, so the Land Registry advises owners of unregistered properties to consider applying for first registration as one method of protecting against fraud. As well as enabling use of tools such as the Property Alert Service, registered proprietors also benefit from the Land Registry indemnity, which compensates innocent victims for financial loss suffered due to property fraud. 

Ideally, however, use of the service will preempt a fraud from taking place, or at least, from resulting in transfer of the legal title or registration of a charge, as prompt action by the owner on receipt of information from the Property Alert Service can enable the Land Registry to reject an application for registration, with far less serious consequences to owners.

Properties which the Land Registry considers to be particularly vulnerable to fraud include:

  • empty properties: where the owner is e.g. abroad or in a care home;
  • rented properties: a tenant may attempt to sell or mortgage the property;
  • mortgage free properties;
  • where there are family disputes: a divorcing or separating partner may try to sell the property.
The Land Registry’s property fraud team, which works closely with the police and other agencies, can be contacted on 0300 006 7030 or reportafraud@landregistry.gov.uk where a fraud is suspected. 

Action: conveyancers and property lawyers should be aware of this service and should be advising clients about it, particularly where the property is within or (following acquisition or other dealing) will fall into one of the categories, which the Land Registry has highlighted as being more vulnerable to fraud.

For risk management purposes and practicalities, it is unlikely to be appropriate to register for an alert on a property on behalf of every client, although it could be considered as an additional short-term tool in higher risk scenarios, e.g. where a property is one of the assets in divorce proceedings or in a probate matter.

Standard letters to clients following acquisition of (or any other dealing with) a property and any checklists and case management systems, should be amended accordingly. 


 

Ian Braithwaite
Client Relationship Manager

T: 0113 385 4483
M: 07432 695 289
E: ian.braithwaite@lbslegal.co.uk

For General Enquiries: Email enquiries@lbslegal.co.uk
24 hour Helpline 0845 0563949
or alternatively fill in the contact form below and we will contact you within 24 hours
 
 
 
 
 
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