'Property fraud' is when fraudsters attempt to gain ownership of a property.
They may do this by using a forged document to transfer it into their own name or by impersonating the registered owner. After raising money by mortgaging the property, they disappear without making repayments. This leaves the owner to deal with the consequences.
In particular, fraudsters may target properties:
- owned by a landlord, such as a buy-to-let owner or property developer
- where the owner lives somewhere else for all or part of the year
- where the owner is in temporary or long-term residential care
- where the owner has died and the property is held in trust
- which no longer have a mortgage
It is advisable to register your land or property with Land Registry (for England and Wales). Doing this:
- shows proof of ownership
- helps to protect your land if someone tries to make a claim on it
- makes changes in ownership easier
You can register land or property yourself, but most people use a solicitor or conveyancer. Your mortgage provider might insist that you use a professional. You can find information about a property in England or Wales, even if you don’t own it, from the Land Registry.
More information regarding property fraud can also be obtained from the Action Fraud website.