The Perils of Vacant Properties!

September 5th 2023

Purchasing a property can be daunting for a number of reasons, and the risk of property fraud is sadly one of them. Whether you are purchasing a buy to let property or a new home, if that property has stood vacant there may be additional risks to consider!

A vacant property may continue to receive post which might not be collected for a while, and there is a risk of a fraudster picking up the owner’s post in the interim. A fraudster might receive, sign and return a Transfer Deed, or a Charge (such as a mortgage) without the true and rightful owner ever knowing!

Where we make progress in the fight against fraud, the fraudsters keep coming, and we have to keep abreast of their methods and the risks posed to our clients.

Steps can be taken to mitigate risks!

HM Land Registry operate a Property Alert Service, which is free, and allows owners to sign up to receive email alerts when an application is made against a registered property. Therefore, if someone applies to register a charge or transfer of the property, you get notified.

Similarly, if you are not living in a property and do not intend to live there, it may be worth adding an additional level of protection in the form of a Restriction. The Restriction put on where an owner is not living at the property is worded as follows:

“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 that conveyancer is satisfied that the person who executed the document submitted for registration as disponor is the same person as the proprietor.”

By noting this on the Title, any conveyancer will be required to vouch for the purported transfer or sale. Mindful of our professional and regulatory obligations, few if any law firms would take this lightly.

At SE-Solicitors we take the risk of fraud and the threat it poses to our clients very seriously. We know that this can sometimes be frustrating for clients and third parties but please be mindful that this is always to protect our clients and their interests. If we are asking for additional identity evidence, or to know who witnessed a signature, we are working to fight fraud.

If you are concerned that your property may be the target of or susceptible to fraud, please get in touch to discuss which of these options might suit your needs best.