The Land Registry is so concerned about property related fraud that it has launched a new hotline for help anyone who thinks he or she may be a victim. These frauds can occur in several ways. The fraudsters may impersonate the true owner or may use forged documents. They then transfer the property to their name and sell it or raise a mortgage on it. They make no mortgage repayments and disappear, leaving a mess to be sorted out.
The new line is on 0300 006 7030 and you can talk to specially trained staff if you are worried that your property may be at risk. Landlords of buy to let property are one of the groups most at risk along with people who own empty houses. Absent owners may not be aware of what is going on- perhaps there is a for sale sign up without the owner’s knowledge. Properties that do not have mortgages on them are particularly at risk because it is easier for the fraudster to obtain a loan.
Landlord insurance policy holders need to be aware of the risk of someone else trying to sell a property, or raise money on it. There are still several properties that are unregistered and these are more vulnerable so if your buy to let investment is not registered it is a good idea to have it registered. Then, if you are an innocent victim you may be able to claim compensation. You should also make sure that the Land Registry has up to date contact details for you. You are allowed to have up to three addresses on the register and these can include email addresses or an address abroad.
One thing that every landlord should do is make regular visits to make sure the property is safe and in a good condition with no signs of any illegal activity. If you are a long way away this may be difficult but using a good agent to look after it for you may be well worth the money.