Property questions: How to combat property fraud

Unsurprisingly, properties are also at risk when they are tenanted, and where there are no mortgages registered. Add to this the general rise in identity theft and owner occupiers should be extra vigilant and look for ways to protect themselves and their property.

There are several simple tools available to combat fraud:

  1. Address for Service

    Did you know you can add up to three addresses for service on the property register? 

    At least one of these must be a postal address, in the UK or Internationally. The other two addresses can be either a DX address, a UK or overseas postal address or an email address. By having more than one address for service, you limit the chances of any important correspondence from the Land Registry being intercepted.

    How to add additional addresses on to the property register?

    Click on this link to see more www.gov.uk/government/publications/updating-registered-owners-contact-address.  Form reference COG1.

  2. Property Alert Service

    A free service offered by Land Registry is the Property Alert Service. You can register up to ten properties. Email alerts will be sent to you when certain activity occurs on your monitored properties. Setting up an account takes as little as 5 minutes and requires a few simple steps:

    • Your name
    • Your contact details
    • Your contact address
    • Setting a password
    • Activating the account with the link sent to your provided email address

    It is very quick and easy to set up alerts and can take as little as five minutes!  All Land Registry requires to create an account is your name, contact address, email address and password.  An email is then sent to you containing a link to activate the account. 

    For further information see https://propertyalert.landregistry.gov.uk/.

  3. Restriction 

    You can add a restriction to the title of your property. There is no fee for this service if the restriction is placed at the time of the purchase, otherwise it is an additional £20.00. 

    By adding the restriction, additional responsibilities will be placed on the Solicitor acting on a sale as the title will contain the following clause – “No disposition of the registered estate by the proprietor of the registered estate is to be registered without a certificate signed by a Conveyancer that the Conveyancer is satisfied that the person who executed the document submitted for registration as disponor is the same person as the proprietor.” 

    For helpful information, follow: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/restriction-by-owner-not-living-at-property-request-registration-rq

     

Property Questions: What are deeds?

Essentially, Deeds are the trail of legal documents that prove or record the ownership of a property.  Since 1990, on the sale of a property, it has been mandatory to register the ownership at Land Registry. When Land Registry complete the registration process, they provide an Official Copy of the Registry and an Official Copy of the Title Plan together known as the Official Copies of Title. These were historically on paper but are now mostly digital and these are what are considered to be the “Deeds”.  However, there are additional documents that make up the “Deeds Pack” or “Title Deeds” that will be required when you come to sell the property.  The Deeds Pack will vary depending on the type of property.

For Freehold properties, the Land Registry Official Copies of Title are usually the only relevant documents to retain and these are electronic so can be readily obtained from Land Registry.

Leasehold properties will require the addition of the original signed and dated Lease to be retained as Deeds, although an Official Copy of the Lease is also held digitally by Land Registry alongside the Register and Plan. There may also be further documents to add to the Deeds such as an original Share Certificate or an original Membership Certificate, if relevant.  For new build Leasehold Properties, you should also retain your 10-year NHBC Certificate (or equivalent such as LABC or Premier Guarantee) along with the Building Regulations Completion Certificate.

Other general documents to keep with the Deeds include any indemnity policy or Declaration of Trust. 

In preparing for the sale of a property, the Deeds Pack will be required alongside documents such as the Energy Performance Certificate, Electric and Gas Safety Certificates, FENSA certificates, building regulations and planning permissions for any alterations, party wall notices, listed building documents, guarantees/warranties for a new boiler/new roof/damp proofing, water bill, service charge and ground rent statements, mortgage details etc, so it may be advisable to retain these documents and keep them up to date as and when they expire.  Having these documents to hand will save delays when it comes to selling your property.

It is also worth noting that if you have a mortgage then your Title Deeds may be kept by the Lender, although this is increasingly rare for UK Banks, but not so for overseas Lenders.