Question: A few years ago I inherited a house, but only lived in it for a couple of years as I was then posted abroad with my job. The house has been empty and now I wish to let it.
© Merrily Harpur
My mother says that I have to be very careful about property fraud as she has read about people who somehow have managed to fraudulently sell or mortgage properties that do not belong to them. This worries me. Any suggestions as to what I can do?
Answer: There is a particularly high risk of property fraud when the owner does not live in the property. You inherited the house quite recently, so your title to the house should be registered at the Land Registry. Check the register of title. Your name should appear as the registered proprietor in the proprietorship register, and I expect that the address shown for you is that of your house.
The proprietorship register can show three different addresses for the registered owner. These can be the address of the registered property, an email address and an address abroad. Keep the Land Registry informed of any changes.
If the Land Registry needs to contact a registered owner regarding a property deal (a sale or mortgage, for example), where the address of the property is the only listed address and the registered proprietor doesn't live there, the owner may never receive the correspondence.
As you do not occupy your house, you could ask the Land Registry to register a Form LL restriction against the title. This will prevent a sale or mortgage being registered unless a solicitor or conveyancer has certified that the person who has signed the deed for the sale or mortgage is the registered proprietor.
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Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP (www.thrings.com).
These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.