Empty Home Fraud

As if being a Solicitor is not challenging enough at times, the fraud radar never seems to switch off nowadays and we, along with unsuspecting landlords have become a target for criminal enterprises. 

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has issued a warning to homeowners about organised criminal groups targeting empty properties to apply for mortgages and/or secured loans. 

The NFIB’s Proactive Intelligence Team has gathered information showing that criminal networks have identified empty properties, for example, by researching published obituaries and land registry records.  

The criminals will then fabricate documents to register on the electoral role, sign up with utility companies, and manage to instruct unsuspecting solicitors. Hopefully all firms will have stringent checks in place already to establish a client’s identification, source of funds, bank details, etc., to avoid risk of loss and negligence. 

Fraudsters can also take advantage when: 

  • Owners are absent 
  • There are buy-to-let landlords 
  • Owners are living abroad 
  • Elderly people do not live in their properties for reasons such as long-term hospital or residential care. 

Funds are then secured without the knowledge of the actual property owners, and it would be exceptionally difficult to ever recover those monies. 


The NFIB has provided some guidance to assist homeowners in protecting against property fraud and clients should be doing as follows: 

  • Making sure any property is registered with the Land Registry 
  • Keeping contact information up to date once registered so that they can be easily contacted if a complication arises 
  • Signing up to the Land Registry’s free property alert service which will provide email alerts when there is some activity on the property being monitored. 

Further information can be found on this very helpful website https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/a-z-of-fraud/property-fraud  

Contact us, we are here to help

If you have any questions please contact Phillip Coburn, Partner, MSB Solicitors at phillipcoburn@msbsolicitors.co.uk.