(PR02/12) 1 February 2012
Land Registry launches free security measure to help owners protect their property from fraudsters
From today, Wednesday 1 February 2012, Land Registry’s Form LL restriction is free for home owners who do not live at the property. The restriction is designed to help prevent forgery by requiring the solicitor or conveyancer to certify they are satisfied that the person selling or mortgaging the property is the true owner. The fee of £50 for owner occupiers remains the same.
Property is usually the most valuable asset people own. It can be sold and mortgaged to raise money and is therefore an attractive target for fraudsters. The properties most vulnerable to fraud are usually empty, tenanted or mortgage-free. To help prevent forgery, absent owners who feel their property might be at risk or their legal advisor can ask Land Registry to enter a Form LL restriction on the title.
Malcolm Dawson, Chief Land Registrar said:
"We take the issue of fraud very seriously and work closely with other organisations including the Law Society to do all we can to reduce the opportunities for fraud and to identify and take corrective action when it has happened.
"Today’s initiative is free for home owners who do not live at the property. It is designed to encourage those who feel their empty or tenanted property might be at risk, to do something to prevent it from being stolen unawares.
"We have introduced a range of additional checks and safeguards in the last four years and work closely with other organisations to do all we can to tackle fraud. Whilst no system can eradicate fraud completely, since September 2009 we have prevented frauds on over 100 applications representing properties valued in excess of some £47m."
Jonathan Smithers Chair of the Conveyancing and Land Law Committee at the Law Society said:
“We welcome this initiative by Land Registry. Empty or tenanted properties are more at risk than owner occupied homes and the introduction of this scheme will enable solicitors to help owners to protect their property from fraud and forgery.”
People who own empty properties might include those living abroad and the elderly in long term hospital or residential care. In 2010, 30 of the 71 claims paid out by Land Registry for fraud and forgery were by non-family members. Of these, 23 involved properties with an absent owner and amounted to £2m out of the total £7.3m paid for fraud and forgery claims.
Two publications are also available from Land Registry to advise customers - Public Guide 17 How to safeguard against property fraud and Public Guide 2 - Keeping your address for service up to date.
Notes to editors
- Home owners who do not live at their property or their conveyancer can submit a request for a Form LL restriction to be entered on the register free of charge using form RQ which can be downloaded from www.landregistry.gov.uk/propertyfraud. The completed form should be sent to the Land Registry Birkenhead Office, Rosebrae Court, Woodside Ferry Approach, Birkenhead, Merseyside CH41 6DU.
- With the largest transactional database of its kind detailing over 23 million titles, Land Registry underpins the economy by safeguarding ownership of many billions of pounds worth of property.
- As a government department established in 1862, executive agency and trading fund responsible to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Land Registry keeps and maintains the Land Register for England and Wales. The Land Register has been an open document since 1990.
- For further information about Land Registry visit www1.landregistry.gov.uk
- Owner occupiers can complete Form RX1 www1.landregistry.gov.uk/upload/documents/RX1.pdf with the Form LL restriction. There is a £50 fee for this service. The completed form should be sent to the Land Registry office serving the area where the property is located. The wording of a restriction is very important and it is advisable to seek advice from a solicitor or conveyancer if protecting property in this way.
Ronal Patel 0300 0067490
Marion Shelley 0300 0067543, 07790 690297