Property title theft fraud costs thousands

She said: "ARLA members are advising all landlords to contact Land Registry to ask that any formal notices to them be sent to an alternative address. This prevents tenants who are criminals intercepting this important correspondence.

"This may seem a little extreme but in our experience it goes some way towards deterring the misuse of such records. The information that is now available on the internet makes it a lot easier for criminals to take out mortgages on properties they do not own, pocketing the money and leaving the legitimate owner in debt – with the stress and aggravation of retrieving title of their own property.  

"From the experience of our agents, we have noticed the trend as flagged by the Land Registry and the punitive effect it is having on landlords particularly because by the time of discovery, the damage is already done.  In practice as soon as the ‘tenant’ has got the mortgage funds they disappear. That is when the landlord becomes aware of the problem, when the rent fails to come in and the tenant has vanished. Then it is only a matter of time before the debt collectors for the new mortgage come calling." 

Such fraud has become a lot easier to manipulate as land certificates became paperless in 2006 and are therefore available to the public to view online.  However, a landlord with a mortgage on their property or where they have given notice of more than one address i.e. their home address and their let property address on the records at the Land Registry would have given themselves the opportunity to be aware of this issue.

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