Protecting older people’s property from fraudsters

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

The property of an elderly person absent due to long term hospital or residential care is at high risk of property fraud

Other high risk groups include individuals who are absent for whatever reason; for example because the owner may live abroad, buy to let landlords, and where a relationship has broken down

The Land Registry’s top tips to help owners protect their property from fraudsters are:

  • First of all make sure your property is registered. If you become an innocent victim of fraud and suffer a financial loss as a consequence, you will be compensated
  • Once registered make sure your contact details are up-to-date so we can reach you easily
  • You can have up to three addresses on the register; email addresses or an address abroad can be used. The more information you provide, the more chance we have of reaching you if we need to
  • Owners who feel their property might be at risk can have a restriction entered on their property which is designed to help prevent forgery by requiring a solicitor or conveyancer to certify they are satisfied that the person selling or mortgaging the property is the true owner
From 1 February 2012, there is no Land Registry fee for home owners to register this restriction, as long as they do not live in the property they wish to protect. Owner occupiers will continue to pay a small fee

In 2010, 30 of the 71 claims paid out by the 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

Clive Barwell TEP FCSI CFP is an accredited member of the Society of Later Life Advisers and uses his vast experience as an Independent Financial Adviser to provide a financial “satellite navigation” system to his Clients.  Financial planning is all about establishing the current location, ascertaining the future desired destination, plotting a course, keeping to that course and avoiding the financial obstacles of life.

Clive can be contacted at http://www.clivebarwell.co.uk/contact/.

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