Unfortunately the risk of being a victim of property fraud isn’t all that unusual, and it’s becoming increasingly more common.
You might actually be amazed to hear how fraudsters are able to snatch away your property from right under your nose! It’s pretty mental, to be honest.
So, to help prevent property fraud, here is a super quick and easy step you can take (I genuinely love this tip, because it’s so easy and so practical, and yet so many are blissfully unaware of it!)!
Do you want the mundane backstory (so you have some context), or should I spare you the details and simply hand over the goods?
Okay, I’ll spare you.
Here’s the backstory…
My old man recently had a bit of a panic attack after hefty electricity bills (north of 10k for one month) started turning up for his vacant commercial rental property, only it was addressed to an unknown company. He contacted the utility company, who then confirmed that someone had set up an account for his unit, and they had used a bogus lease for the premises to get the account authorised.
Obviously my dad shat his knickers, but more so than being scared, he was utterly bewildered by the fact that an empty property, using zero power, was even able to rack up an electricity bill. How does that even happen, and why didn’t it trigger any alarms with the supplier? The whole situation was devoid of anything even remotely resembling logic.
They were unable to provide any sensicle explanations. They’ve yet to provide any sensicle explanations. No surprise there, though.
In any case, my dad contacted his solicitor for council, and their immediate concern was that someone might be attempting to fraudulently transfer the property out of his name. It’s a common and crude practise they’ve seen before. This is particularly a risk where, as here, there is no lender’s interest registered against the property.
So the first thing we did was obtain an up-to-date set of entries from the Land Registry to determine whether my dad was still the proprietor.
Praise the Lord, thankfully he was
Are you aware of the HM Land Registry’s Property Alert Service?
If not, you certainly should be!
After ensuring my dad was still the registered proprietor, we set up a ‘Property Alert’ on the HM Land Registry’s website. The Property Alert service is “an award winning free property monitoring service aimed at anyone who feels a registered property could be at risk from fraud.”
I should mention that the service is only available for properties in England or Wales. Sorry everyone else (you’ll probably just have to live with having your property hijacked by property pirates)!
Once signed up to the service (which literally takes a few puny seconds; you only need to provide a name and email address), you will receive email alerts when certain activity occurs on your monitored properties, allowing you to take action if necessary.
So now if any official searches and applications are received against my dad’s property, we will receive an email alert.
I can only recommend for others to do the same, to start passively monitoring not only their rental properties, but also residential, to help detect and prevent property fraud. The entire process literally takes a few minutes to set up (and yes, it’s completely free, so don’t worry yourself).
You can also monitor any other property you want (with a max of 10 per account), and the same property can be monitored by different people. For example, my dad and I both set up seperate accounts and both ‘monitor’ my parents’ residential property and commercial property. You don’t need to jump through any hoops like providing ownership deeds etc. It’s surprisingly effortless.
Just to clarify, this is all done through the official HM Land Registry website. It ain’t no shady illegitimate backdoor operation.
So there you have it. Super quick and super practical.
Hope you find this useful, and I hope no one snatches your property away from under your bushy little nozzle!
Peace out for now!
Disclaimer: I'm just a landlord blogger; I'm 100% not qualified to give legal or financial advice. I'm a doofus. Any information I share is my unqualified opinion, and should never be construed as professional legal or financial advice. You should definitely get advice from a qualified professional for any legal or financial matters. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.