The story of how a man from Luton lost his house to fraudsters has prompted approximately 30,000 people to sign up to HM Land Registry’s Property Alert Service.
Interest in the service run by H M Land Registry (HMLR) spiked after the BBC reported the case of the Rev Mike Hall who lost his house to fraudsters.
Fraudsters stole Rev Hall’s identity in order to sell his house without his knowledge in a type of fraud known as title or registration fraud. Once the fraudsters had sold Mr Hall’s property, they pocketed the £131,000 sale proceeds.
The story sent alarm bells ringing for many home-owners who have since set up a property alert via HMLR.
HMLR’s Property Alert service tells you if anyone applies to make changes to your property’s details, including someone taking out a mortgage against it or making an application to change ownership.
You can set up an alert for up to ten properties so you can monitor a family member’s property as well as your own.
HMLR launched the service in 2014; they normally get around 4,000 people signing up per month, but this jumped to nearly 30,000 last week.
In the case of Mr Hall’s property, the BBC found that a duplicate driving licence and bank account had been set up in Mr Hall’s name and the house then sold to an unsuspecting new owner.
Once the fraudsters had sold the house, Mr Hall was no longer the legal owner and has no rights to the house. He will however be able to apply to the Land Registry for compensation.
While the Property Alert Service does not prevent this kind of fraud, it allows users to report suspicious activity to the Land Registry who can then investigate further.
To sign up to the Property Alert Service, go to HM Land Registry – Property Alert. The service is free, but you will need to create an account on the HMLR’s website to sign up. Alternatively, you can contact the Land Registry on 0300 006 0478.
The property you wish to monitor must be situated in England or Wales and registered with the Land Registry. You will need a valid email address and the postcode or title number of the property(ies) you want to monitor.