I recently read an article written by a leading London accountancy firm which highlighted the potential risks landlords could face from fraud focused upon their investment property, as they described how a client of theirs, who, when driving past his investment property happened to notice a For Sale By Auction sign in its front garden! Upon contact with the auctioneers, so the story goes, it turned out that the property was being sold by a property company who had a few days earlier, brought the property from a seemingly legitimate private seller, a fraudster.
Fortunately they suggest, HM Land Registry’s arbitration committee decided that their client should have his property returned to him and the property company receive compensation for their loss. Had he not driven past his property and had the auction proceeded it would have become much more difficult to unravel.
Apparently, as the property was mortgage free, standard checks were avoided or not needed when the property was ‘sold’ by the fraudster. The situation could have been far more complicated had the owner not noticed the For Sale sign.
Many of my clients, as well as having extremely well managed investments and pensions with us also own property which they rent out for the rental income and the long term capital appreciation they have benefitted from over recent years.
Whilst many live in close proximity to these properties others don’t and rely totally upon the management agents to secure good tenants, obtain references, collect rent and maintain the properties on their behalf. Unfortunately though a management agent isn’t always able to spot a fraudster, or even be aware that a property is being fraudulently offered for sale, so how do you add a level of security to your investment and secure the ownership of your property?
Well here’s very a simple solution, and one that costs nothing. Sign up for the free Land Registry Property Alert service for registered properties in England and Wales at the Government website https://www.gov.uk/guidance/property-alert You will then receive email alerts if there is any activity with your property which would be noted at the Land Registry, such as a mortgage being taken out or an attempted sale. An early alert to any potential fraudulent activity.
In about ten minutes you can log up to ten properties. As well as your own property, you can create alerts for your parents’ property and even if appropriate your children’s as well, just in case. It might save you having to drive past your investment property every day to spot a For Sale sign!!
Mark Ireland ALIBF