Have you signed up to protect against property title fraud? Number of homeowners who have rises 30% in two years
- A total of 178,086 homeowners registered for the Land Registry alerts in 2022
- It is a rise of 30%, up from 135,624 homeowners who signed up in 2020
- We reveal how you can sign up to the HM Land Registry property alerts
The number of homeowners signing up to protect themselves against property fraud – via alerts from HM Land Registry – has increased 30 per cent.
A total of 178,086 homeowners registered for the free HM Land Registry property alert service in 2022, up from 135,624 in 2021.
There has been a fall so far this year, with 34,821 signing up in the first six months of of 2023. However, this suggests that the annual total will still far surpass 2020’s 46,043 sign-ups.
The service alerts homeowners if there is any suspicious fraudulent activity concerning the ownership of their property – in particular if someone applies to change the register of the property.
A total of 178,086 homeowners registered for the HM Land Registry property alerts in 2022
The 30 per cent increase in registrations was revealed in a Freedom of Information request by risk management platform Thirdfort.
It means that 618,185 have signed up for the service since the scheme’s launch in 2014, which remains a small percentage of the entire property market.
How to sign up to the alerts
You can sign up to HM Land Registry property alerts online. It will then let you know if anyone tries to change the register of your property so you can take action.
You can also put a restriction on your title, so that HM Land Registry can’t register a sale unless a solicitor or conveyancer confirms that the application was made by you.
HM Land Registry prevented 43 fraudulent applications in 2021-2022, with an estimated value of just over £31million. This was an increase compared to 2017-2018, when it recorded 24 cases.
Olly Thornton-Berry, of Thirdfort, said: ‘Property fraud is a major risk, particularly as fraudsters become increasingly sophisticated, and the economic climate remains challenging.
‘There’s been an explosion in fake ID documents, and we’ve seen some high profile examples of fraudsters acquiring ownership of properties using forged documents to impersonate registered owners.’
He explained that empty properties, tenanted properties and those without a mortgage are particularly at risk.
‘It’s crucial we use all of the tools available to prevent fraudulent sales, and 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 added.
‘We’d urge more homeowners to take advantage of this very effective tool, particularly as fraud risk continues to increase.’
Homeowners can sign up to the HM Land Registry property alerts in minutes and can register up to 10 properties
He suggested that with approximately 24.8 million homes in Britain, as few as 2.5 per cent of property owners may be signed up to the alerts.
HM Land Registry’s Property Alert service offers a quick and simple way for homeowners to protect themselves against property title fraud.
Property owners can sign up in minutes and can 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.
How does property title fraud work?
Fake buyers can pretend to make an offer on your property and withdraw it right before completing, and they use the information gathered in the offer process to commit title fraud.
This is where a scammer changes the title deeds of the property into their name, and can then apply for loans using your home as collateral.
If an unfortunate homeowner hasn’t spotted that their title deeds have been changed into a scammer’s name, a potential buyer could be at risk of getting scammed, too.
Most at risk of being a victim of this type of scam are homes that are empty due to the owner living abroad, properties without a mortgage, properties that are rented out, and people who have previously had their identity stolen.
Once in their name, scammers can try and sell the property without the true owner even noticing.