How can you stop your house from being stolen?
What on earth do we mean – how could a house be stolen?
The Government has actually made it much easier for fraudsters to gain access to your assets, by introducing flawed legislation which allows Lasting Powers of Attorney to be made giving control of all of your assets – without anyone in your family being notified. The principal of Lasting Powers of Attorney is sound, and they are absoluely crucial parts of everyones legal planning. However, the fact of the matter is that there are very few checks made when they are set up – considering the power they give. In effect, the fraudster just needs access to your post, gets some fraudulent identity “proof” and then he or she could remortgage your house. To be fair, the mortgage companies have much tighter controls, but there is little to stop the fraudster selling your house while you are away (or even at work!) All they need is access to your post, and a key.
Another thing we hear about from time to time is loans being registered against the wrong property, and from personal experience, they can be a real problem to remove. A nightmare if you are trying to sell or remortgage and their is an unexplained charge on your deeds.
Anyway, there are three things that we are aware of that will reduce the risk.
1) Take out one of our Trusts – it is harder to deal with property in trust with a Lasting Power of Attorney, and you can easily have an attorney with a different address (children?)
2) Create a Lasting Power of Attorney yourself. It won’t stop the fraudsters, but it will protect you in other ways and make their lives more difficult.
3) Watch the Government video below then set up alerts so you and perhaps your family find out if someone is trying to tamper with your prperty ownership.
How Property Alert works
- you will need to set up an online account with Land Registry which is free
- you will be able to monitor up to ten properties
- email alerts will be sent when Land Registry receives an application to change the register as well as for official searches (which can be sent to us up to 30 working days before the application is sent and ‘freeze’ the register until the application is received). You can then judge whether or not the activity is suspicious and if you should seek further advice
For example, if you receive an alert that a bank has lodged a search on your property but you haven’t applied for a mortgage, you may want to seek legal advice, contact Action Fraud, or contact the bank in question to tell them you are the owner and have not applied for a mortgage. Investigations into the authenticity of the mortgage application can then begin much earlier in the process.
Properties most likely to be at risk from property fraud:
- tenanted properties – for example where the landlord lives elsewhere, a tenant might try to mortgage or sell the property without the landlord’s knowledge.
- empty properties – such as where the owner lives abroad or is in a care home
- where there are family disputes. For example, in a relationship break-down someone could try and mortgage a property without their partner knowing
- properties without a mortgage
Other measures to help protect yourself against property fraud: • Make sure your property is registered. If you become an innocent victim of fraud and suffer financial loss as a consequence, you may be compensated • Once registered, ensure Land Registry has up-to-date contact details so we can reach you easily. You can have up to three addresses in the register including an email address and/or an address abroad. The more information you provide, the more chance we have of reaching you if we need to • Owners can make a request to have a restriction entered on their property. This is designed to help prevent forgery by requiring a solicitor or conveyancer to certify they are satisfied that the person selling or mortgaging the property is the true owner