I'm alarmed at the mortgage fraud that I read about in the media, which seems especially common for properties that don't have a legal charge registered against them. Is there anything I can do to protect my property?

With the sophistication of fraud these days HM Land Registry and even solicitors accounts cannot escape fraudsters trying to take out fraudulent mortgages over your property, and unfortunately, successfully getting away with it. This does pose a significant risk to property owners, especially if you are mortgage free and if you don't live in the property, but rent it out.

To combat this problem, the Land Registry offers two services which help to reduce the risk of fraud. First you can apply to the Land Registry for a restriction to be registered against your property that states there can be no disposition of your property at all without a certificate signed by a solicitor or conveyancer stating that they are satisfied that the identification of the owner has been verified. The cost of the registration of this restriction against your title deeds is £20 paid to the Land Registry, plus any fee your solicitor may charge,

The second is even more simple; on the Land Registry website you will see a facility called Land Registry Alert. You should register for this at no cost, and the Land Registry will alert you if there is any activity related to property you own. This should minimise your risk of fraud significantly.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.