9:08 AM, 17th August 2022, About 7 months ago 4
New figures obtained from a Freedom of Information request show a 300% increase in the number of homeowners signing up to a property alert scheme to protect against fraudulent property transactions – and landlords are at particular risk.
The data comes from Thirdfort, a risk management platform, which found that 135,624 property owners registered for the free HM Land Registry’s (HMLR) Property Alert service in 2021, compared with 46,043 in 2020.
More than 110,000 have already signed up this year.
The rise in registrations suggests that homeowners are increasingly concerned about the risk of fraud, following alarming figures in recent years.
Olly Thornton-Berry, co-founder and managing director of Thirdfort, said: “Fraud is a huge problem in the UK property market.
“We’ve seen some alarming instances of fraudsters acquiring ownership of properties using forged documents to impersonate registered owners.
“Empty properties, tenanted properties and those without a mortgage are particularly at risk.”
He added that tenanted properties are at risk because the landlord does not usually occupy the property but their contact address at the Land Registry is often the same as the tenanted property address.
And without the right contact details, it is difficult for HMLR to inform the landlord of any applications concerning their property – making it easier for criminals to succeed in acquiring the title.
According to the FOI data, 515,709 property owners have now signed up for the free service since its launch in 2014.
With approximately 28 million homes in the UK, this represents between just 2% and 4% of property owners, despite significant risks of title fraud.
Mr Thornton-Berry said: “The property industry is hot on the heels of these fraudsters and cutting-edge technology has a key role to play in protecting both homeowners and property professionals.
“Thirdfort is working with over 850 conveyancing firms, estate agents and law firms to address these risks using Open Banking, cryptographic and biometric verification, and real-time PEPs and sanctions monitoring.”
The Property Alert service offers a quick and simple way for landlords to protect themselves against property title fraud.
They can sign up in minutes and register up to 10 properties.
Email alerts are sent when HM Land Registry receives an application to change the register, as well as for official searches.
This enables property owners to judge whether the activity is suspicious and if they should seek further advice.
Olly Thornton-Berry said: “HM Land Registry’s Property Alert service offers homeowners access to a simple and highly effective method of minimising the risk of title fraud.”
He said that landlords should take advantage of this effective tool, particularly as fraud risk continues to increase.
And he added: “While on one hand, it’s hugely positive that there’s been such an increase in people using the scheme, on the other, these numbers still account for a very small percentage of UK homes.
“We’d urge more homeowners to take advantage of this effective tool, particularly as fraud risk continues to increase.”
9:54 AM, 17th August 2022, About 7 months ago
I recommend using this. I've used it for a number of years and prioritised property owned by my eldery parents, unmortgaged property and for keeping track of my solicitor's activities when transferring property
10:42 AM, 17th August 2022, About 7 months ago
Reply to the comment left by JB at 17/08/2022 - 09:54
If you want to protect yourself against this you can have something registered at the Land Registry to ensure that no changes can be made against your title without a solicitor verifying your identity. Other solicitors will be on here who know more of the details than I do.
11:29 AM, 17th August 2022, About 7 months ago
Recommended. Did it for all of mine, also my mother and immediate family. As I found out with a recent remortgage, all transactions get flagged immediately. Very simple
17:44 PM, 17th August 2022, About 7 months ago
It's a really great service that I highly recommend.
Please note however that they do send out a yearly reminder using the title 'property alert' - inducing mild panic the first time I saw one!