Archive Website of the UK government

Please note that this website has a UK government accesskeys system.

Archive brought to you by Cross Stitch UK

Main menu

Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Protecting your property against fraud

Land and property are usually the most valuable assets people own. As a result, they can be targeted by fraudsters. Find out what you can do to protect yourself against property fraud, and what to do if you are a victim of it.

When property fraud is more likely

Anyone with an interest in property can be the victim of property fraud, but there are some situations where this is more likely. For example:

  • a property is empty or is bought to let
  • the owner is abroad or absent
  • the owner is infirm or in a home
  • the property no longer has a mortgage

How to prevent property fraud

Help protect yourself from property fraud – update your details on the land register

There are a number of things you can do to help prevent property fraud:

  • register your property with Land Registry
  • keep your details on the land register up to date
  • put a restriction on your title

You should also be careful what you sign. If you’re not sure what it is you’ve been asked to sign, or what its legal effect might be, get professional advice from a legal adviser.

Register your property

Not all properties in England and Wales are registered with Land Registry. Registering:

  • provides an up-to date official record of who owns the land
  • gives you greater security
  • means you might be able to get compensation from Land Registry if you suffer a financial loss because of fraud

You can register your property yourself for a fee. To find out more, see the link ‘Registering land or property’.

Keep your details on the land register up to date

If you have property registered with Land Registry, you have to provide an 'address for service'. This is the address all letters and notices are sent to if Land Registry needs to contact you. Land Registry might contact you if, for example, an application is made to change the ownership of your property without the aid of a conveyancer.

You can have up to three addresses for service. For example:

  • an address where you are living now
  • an email address
  • an address abroad

By registering more than one address, you’re more likely to find out if Land Registry receives a fraudulent application concerning your property.

There is no Land Registry fee for updating your addresses or contact details – to do this, follow the link 'Changing your details on the land register’.

'Care of' addresses

You can ask your legal adviser or someone else you trust if they will act as a ‘care of’ address. This means that any letters to you from Land Registry will also be sent to them.

You can only put your solicitor/legal adviser as a ‘care of’ address with their agreement. Make sure there’s an understanding about what they should do with any letters or notices, and where they can contact you.

Put a restriction on your title register

Putting a restriction on the title limits the powers of the registered owner of the property to deal with or dispose of it. For example, by selling it or using it to raise a mortgage.

If, for example, an LL restriction is placed on the title, no applications for the property are allowed unless a professional conveyancer certifies that the person executing a deed is in fact the owner.

This could help to prevent a fraudster forging a signature on a deed. You should speak to your legal adviser about putting a restriction on the title.

If you think you’ve been a victim of property fraud

Contact Land Registry immediately if you’ve been the victim of property fraud

Contact Land Registry immediately if:

  • you think that you’ve already been the victim of property fraud
  • someone has changed the register so that you’re no longer shown as the owner

You should also get legal advice and contact the police. You can get free advice from Citizens Advice. A legal adviser can help you but you might have to pay a fee.

If an attempt is made to defraud you of your property, the property or your details may also be used in other fraudulent activity. For example, identity fraud or credit card fraud.

Contact Land Registry

The Land Registry office you need to contact might not be the one that is closest to you. Use Land Registry’s office finder to find out which office to contact.

Other types of property fraud and scams

There are many different types of property fraud and possible scams, including:

  • adverts for ‘free land’ – for example, stating that a plot of land has no owner
  • ‘land banking’

Land banking is where people buy plots of land in the hope the land's value will increase when permission for development is granted. However, there’s no realistic prospect that planning permission will be obtained and the buyer isn't told this information.

For further information on the different types of property fraud, and what you can do if you've paid money into one of these schemes, use the link to ‘Types of property fraud’.

Additional links

Simpler, Clearer, Faster

Try GOV.UK now

From 17 October, GOV.UK will be the best place to find government services and information

Useful contacts

Access keys