Protecting yourself from land and property fraud

If you’re a land or property owner, then protecting yourself against fraud is a top priority. Below, we set out the risk factors for property fraud, and how you can protect yourself.

Fraud threats for property owners

Frauds against property owners are becoming ever more sophisticated and can happen in many ways.

Fraudsters may attempt to use a forged document to transfer a property into their own name or may use fake identification to impersonate the registered owner. These frauds can occur without the knowledge of the registered owner.

Once a fraudster has raised money, such as by mortgaging the property, they will disappear without making repayments, leaving the homeowner to deal with the consequences.

In recent years, the UK has seen increasing levels of fraud (opens a new window). In 2023, overall fraud (including land and property fraud) totalled £2.3bn, with a 60% increase in high-value frauds.

Risk factors for fraud

Certain properties are particularly vulnerable to fraud, including:

You are also more likely to suffer fraud if you live overseas and your UK property is infrequently used or visited.

If you think you’re at risk, you can mitigate fraud through the following means:

Track any changes to the register

If you believe you’re at risk of property or land fraud, you can track changes to the register or put a restriction on your title.

To do so, sign up to receive property alerts from HM Land Registry (HMLR). You will be notified on any activity, fraudulent or not, if someone applies to change the register of your property – for instance, if someone tried to use your property for a mortgage.

The alerts won’t automatically block any alterations to the register, but will ensure you’re notified. You can get alerts for a maximum of 10 properties with no fee.

Place a restriction on your title

You can prevent HMLR from registering a sale or mortgage on your property by placing a restriction on the register. This requires a conveyancer or solicitor to first certify that any application was made by you.

If you live at the property, you can apply for a restriction here (opens a new window).

Alternatively, you can fill in a free request for restriction for owners not living at the property (opens a new window).

If your property is owned through a company, you can fill out this request form (opens a new window).

If you’re a victim of property fraud

If you’re a victim of property fraud, contact the HMLR property fraud team at:

HM Land Registry property fraud team (opens a new window)

T: 0300 006 7030

You can also:

Get advice from Citizens Advice Bureau (opens a new window) or an independent legal adviser

Report it to Action Fraud (opens a new window)

Contact us (opens a new window) for more information, or visit our Private Clients (opens a new window) page for more insights.

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