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Tiny number of homes protected by Land Registry alert service

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  • 16/11/2021
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Tiny number of homes protected by Land Registry alert service
Fewer than one per cent of UK homeowners have signed up to a free alert service from the Land Registry which can help protect them from property scammers.

That’s according to the results of a new Freedom of Information request from legal tech firm Thirdfort. 

It found that in the seven years since the service was launched, just 275,537 people have signed up to the property alert service. Given there are approximately 29 million homes across the country, that works out at fewer than one per cent of owners. 

The study follows recent news reports about Reverend Mike Hall, whose identity was stolen by scammers who went on to sell his property in Luton without him realising. He had been away from the property for some time working in Wales, and was only alerted to the situation when his neighbours got in touch to inform him that builders had started working on the property. 

The Land Registry’s property alert service allows owners to register up to 10 properties to be monitored. They will then be emailed an alert whenever an official search takes place against the property, as well as when an application is made to change the register, allowing owners to act should they receive an unexpected alert.

Olly Thornton-Berry, co-founder and managing director of Thirdfort, noted that property title fraud often involves a fraudster using forged documents to impersonate the legitimate owner, and pointed out that empty homes, tenanted properties and those without a mortgage are most at risk.

“As gatekeepers to the property market, estate agents and conveyancers have a key role to play in spotting fraudulent attempts to buy property,” he added.

“Yet, there are also some simple steps that homeowners can take to minimise the risk of such fraud. So, it’s worrying that so few have taken this opportunity, particularly as fraudsters become increasingly sophisticated.”

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