As you are probably aware property fraud is increasing.
In December 2015, the Daily Mail featured an article written by Mr Hastings in which is describes how his wife’s house has been “sold” from beneath her to an unwitting purchaser.
Mr Hasting’s wife, Penny has been letting a property via an agency. Her previous tenants had moved out in June 2015 and the agents told her they had found a replacement. His name was Kevin Hafter, though this appears was a stolen identity.
The agents said that his reference, provided through a credit referencing agency, were deemed as acceptable. He declared an annual income of £110K, paid the deposit and collected keys at the end of the month.
As soon as “Mr Hafter” took possession of the property it was apparently placed on the marked with the estate agents, Foxtons of Fulham Broadway. “Mr Hafter” claimed to be acting on behalf of the owner – Penelope Hastings – who he said lived in Chicago.
Mr and Mrs Hastings learned that a women from Catford in London, had changed her name to “Penelope Hastings” by deed poll, and had obtained a passport declaring her to be Penelope Hastings. However it appears that just a photocopy of the document has been sufficient to sell the property.
After a price had been quickly agreed with a keen purchaser a firm of licensed conveyancers acted for the alleged seller, and the full asking price of £1.35 million was handed over.
The good news for Mrs Hastings was that the Land registry, suspicious that something was amiss, declined to register the sale, so she was still the owner. Unfortunately, for the would be purchaser though, the money disappeared without a trace.
Free service available for property owners and landlords
In order to try and prevent property fraud, the Land Registry has a free service which owners of properties can sign up on line, free of charge, up to 10 properties to have alerts sent to a registered email address, when anything happens with their property at the land registry.
We strongly recommend that all property owners sign up to this free land registry service for all the properties which you own so that you can receive alerts from the land registry. We cannot guarantee that fraud can be prevented by using this service but it is one step further to try and prevent fraud especially on buy to let properties.
The link to go on to sign up on
Other forms of help available to property owners
Also Countywide Legal Indemnities are now offering an indemnity policies for purchasers and lenders starting from £70.00 which covers homebuyers and lenders against losses arising from property fraud.
Please all be extra diligent about your buy to let properties.
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Who is Sutherland & Co
Sutherland & Co Law Limited are a firm of Solicitors formed in 2016 by Caroline Sutherland and Mark Appleyard who are Lawyers, and bring together over 50 years’ experience between them in the legal sector. Both have worked for established city law firms and have brought their wealth of knowledge and experience together to provide unique legal services to the public and businesses.
Sutherland & Co are a friendly, modern and approachable law firm specialising in various areas of law. They understand the need for providing “jargon free” legal advice, a personal service and an understanding approach with competitive legal fees.
Sutherland & Co believe that clients should always be their main priority to help them achieve their goals, no matter what they are.
Author: Caroline Sutherland, Solicitor @Sutherland & Co Law Limited