The phrase ‘safe as houses’ has long been synonymous with utmost security and reliability, a testament to the perceived steadfastness of property as an investment. However, in recent times, the emergence of sophisticated fraud schemes has shaken this belief.
The increase in Title Fraud or House Hijacking, particularly post-pandemic, is alarming. In these schemes, fraudsters, equipped with counterfeit IDs and documents, impersonate homeowners and sell properties to unsuspecting buyers.
These criminals often target cash buyers, preferring those less likely to undergo lender scrutiny, and entice them with significantly reduced property prices to hasten the transaction. In some cases, they might suggest a specific conveyancer, who is in on the scam, to facilitate the process.
The success of such frauds, bypassing standard legal safeguards, leads to the fraudster walking away with substantial sums, leaving the true property owner and the duped buyer entangled in a complex legal battle.
Who is most at risk?
Properties most vulnerable to these scams are those without mortgages, particularly if they are vacant or rented out. Vacant properties allow fraudsters to conduct viewings undetected. There have even been instances where tenants have masqueraded as the owners, listing the property for sale.
Protect your property
To counter these risks, HM Land Registry encourages property owners to enroll in its complimentary alert service. This quick and simple precaution provides notifications of any attempts to alter your property’s registration.
Landlords, especially those living far from their properties or frequently travelling, are advised to register immediately. Additionally, placing a restriction on your property title can prevent unauthorised sales or mortgages unless a solicitor verifies your identity as the lawful owner.
Another proactive measure is to engage a letting agent to oversee your property. They can act as an additional safeguard, conducting routine inspections to detect any suspicious activities.
For more information about our property management services, contact us today.