An online service has been launched that helps protect landlords from property fraud.
Title Guardian monitors properties by tracking digital sources and then flagging up likely criminal activity.
These sources include the Land Registry website, Companies House, the main property portals and other Government databases.
If suspicious activity is spotted, the property owner receives instant alerts via SMS, email and app notification so any potential fraud threat can be stopped.
Such a service could have stopped Luton landlord and vicar the Reverend Mike Hall from being scammed, who in 2021 discovered that his rental property had been stripped of all its contents and sold by his tenants. It took him over a year to regain possession.
This is an example of title fraud, one of the scams Title Guardian says its service can prevent. Others include flagging up when a property’s address has been used to set up a fake company – a technique often used in rental scams to create fake references.
Title Guardian says it is the first solution on the market to proactively protect homeowners and landlords against these threats and alert them at the earliest opportunity.
The firm says HM Land Registry’s property alert service, which is free and sends home owners an email if someone tries to register their property in another name, is often too late to stop the fraud taking place.
“Today marks an important development for property owners – and the industry as a whole” says John Daw, Title Guardian’s CEO. “It’s widely known that the industry’s processes require significant modernisation and digitisation. One key area requiring action is to address how unsecure the property market is.”
“The availability of homeowner data on the government’s open register naturally creates risks, as that data can be sold to anyone, including those with criminal intent.
“Government organisations like Companies House and the DVLA can also unintentionally assist frauds, where checks on activities are not robust.
“So, after a successful beta phase, we’re pleased we can now bring this important technology to market, to provide much needed protection against these threats”.
Title Guardian is now available to all homeowners and landlords in England and Wales via its mobile app, with the desktop version online from 1st January 2024.
A home can be protected on an annual subscription for £49.99 a year. The Title Guardian app is available to download on the App Store and Google Play.