Fraudsters are targeting empty buy-to-let homes

If it wasn’t a hard enough time to be a landlord, those whose rental properties are empty have been warned to watch out for ‘sophisticated criminals’ attempting to take out fraudulent loads and mortgages.

National Fraud Intelligence Bureau warns landlords

The The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) have warned landlords to beware of criminals, having found evidence that they’re targeting empty homes.

The fraudsters identify which properties are unoccupied, then create or purchase fake documentation linked to the address. They’ll go as far as signing up to the electoral register and registering with utility providers in order to convince banks to release the funds to them.

Once they have the money they will vanish, leaving the actual homeowner to deal with the debt.

How to protect your property

Any empty property could be at risk of falling foul of scammers, whether it’s your own home and you’re away on holiday for an extended period of time, or if it’s a buy-to-let property that is currently vacant.

However, there are steps you can take to minimise the risk and help keep fraudsters away.

The first thing to do is make sure your property is on the Land Registry. If you’re signed up to that then you can be compensated for a financial loss should anyone commit mortgage fraud.

You can also sign up to the Land Registry’s free property alert service, which allows you to register up to ten separate properties. That way, if someone tries to take out a mortgage on a property you own, you will be alerted and can take further action.

As long as the property’s in your name, performing frequent checks of your credit report will allow you to see any activity linked to your properties so you can spot any suspicious loans.

Where to seek help

Should you suspect your property is being used in a scam, you can contact the Land Registry’s property fraud department on 0300 006 7030.

The line is open 8.30am - 5pm Monday to Friday, and you will be able to speak to a specialist who can advise you on next steps to take

Have you or your property ever fallen victim to fraud? Let us know in the comments

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