Tenanted, unoccupied or mortgage-free properties have long been at high risk of property fraud, in the form of fraudulent sales or mortgages.
In the past, criminals have employed various techniques to gain ownership of property, including identity theft, or simply forging transfer documentation. The fraudsters will raise money through mortgaging the property then vanish, with the owner left to deal with the consequences when the fraud is eventually discovered.
To help combat this type of fraud, the Land Registry have introduced new security measures for companies owning registered property with concerns that it may be subject to property fraud.
Companies may now request a restriction to be made on the registers of title for the property to safeguard against forgery.
Whoever carries out the conveyancing will be required to certify they are satisfied the company requesting the transfer, lease or mortgage is the same company as the owner, before any registration takes place.
It will also be mandatory for the conveyancer to certify that reasonable steps have been taken to confirm that anyone executing a deed on behalf of the company did hold the stated office at the time of execution.
The restriction is requested using a Form RQ(Co) and there is no cost levied by the Land Registry for registering the restriction on up to three titles.
A similar free restriction for private individuals was introduced three years ago and has proven successful.