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Written by Aadil Butt of The Finance Equation
Since the 1970’s property title theft has been steadily increasing. There are a number of reasons for this. Title deeds have now moved from being private documents, when you had to ask for permission to see a title document from the owners, to being online public documents held at UK land registry from the 1990’s.
The problem has gotten worse since 2003. This is the year when Land and Charge certificates were abolished. This now means that criminals no longer have to provide evidence of ownership by showing certificates. In fact property title theft has meant that Land Registry has been sued for £59m for fraudulent documents. Of the £59m of claims £31m has already been paid out.
Registered owners may be able to claim compensation from land registry. You will get reduced compensation if the owner did not take reasonable steps to protect themselves. If the land has not been sold then land registry can correct the register.
If however your property has been sold to an innocent third party then restoring title may not be possible. If a loan has been secured against your property then the lender has the right to crystallise their charge to recover its monies. So effectively you lose your property. Protecting property against title theft is essential if you own unencumbered property.
Those who could be affected by title theft are people who have no debt against their properties. In particular those that do not live in their properties. Those who do can also be affected.
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