House hunters and homeowners have been warned to be mindful of the risks of property fraud, which appears to be on the rise across the UK.
HM Land Registry has recently been issuing reminders to solicitors and conveyancers, which aim to raise awareness of the growing problems being reported around the country.
One of the leaflets reads: “Fraudsters can and do target properties for fraud.
“By pretending to be you they can try to sell or mortgage your property, leaving you to deal with the consequences.
“Fraud of all kinds is on the increase, so it’s important you do what you can to protect yourself.”
Homeowners are likely to be more at risk if their property is rented out, empty, mortgage-free or not registered with HM Land Registry.
Individuals are advised to sign up to the Land Registry’s free Property Alert service – which will notify them of any applications put forward or issues raised concerning their property, such as applications for new mortgages or changes of ownership.
So far, the Land Registry claims that it has been successful in preventing hundreds of fraudulent applications from being registered.
Zahra Himani, from OGR Stock Denton’s Property Team, said: “You can never be too careful. As a firm, we have modified internal procedures to try to mitigate against the risk of property fraud.
“We meet all of our clients, we warn clients about bank details changing and call to verify account details before remitting money.
“We work with our clients to protect their money. However, it must be a team effort. Therefore, if you are buying a property, visit the property a few times, if you notice any unusual occupiers then let your solicitors know.
“It is about being constantly vigilant, and not just on a Friday, which is usually a busy time for conveyancers.”
If you need guidance on buying or selling your home, our experienced conveyancers can provide support at every stage of the process. For further advice please contact the head of the Property team Michael Stock (firstname.lastname@example.org).