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Hijacking Warning to Landlords - don’t let property fraud hit you

A prominent lettings agency is warning its own and all other landlords that they are particularly vulnerable to the growing threat of property fraud - especially so-called hijacking.

Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves in London, explains that hijacking is when a ‘tenant’ will rent a property using fake documents, then change their name by Deed Poll and take on the landlord’s name which can be found on the tenancy agreement.  

Using this new name and fake documents, the criminal then puts the property on the market with an estate agent. 


When the property is sold and a solicitor starts the conveyancing process, it is then difficult to spot any discrepancies and the sales transaction may go through if no-one is alerted.  If the criminal receives the proceeds of the sale, the money is usually swiftly transferred to an overseas bank account and impossible to retrieve.

Alternatively, a criminal may simply view details of a property on HM Land Registry’s website - this can be viewed by anyone - and target properties this way.

Von Grundherr says you could register an anti-fraud restriction on your property with HM Land Registry.  

“This means that any application to register a sale or mortgage on your property must be certified by a solicitor confirming they are satisfied the person signing the documents is the registered proprietor.  If not, the application will be blocked. This also acts as a deterrent to would-be fraudsters.”


He adds that there are additional steps you can take to protect yourself from property fraud.

Thorough tenant referencing:  Accurate referencing is essential.  It’s a complex process, so we use an independent tenant referencing company to carry out checks and protect you against the use of fake documents such as bank statements and utility bills.  

Use a professional lettings agent:  Let your property through a professional lettings agency that’s a member of Propertymark. 

Check your credit rating:   Regularly check your credit rating with a credit agency such as Experian to warn you of possible attempts at identity theft.  

You can get more details here.

Want to comment on this story? If so...if any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals on any basis, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.

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    Another way to be aware of this is sign up for email alerts with the LR, so if anyone (including yourself), attempts to change any aspect on the register an automatic email is sent to the person who has registered, at least then you are aware that something is .......'' afoot''.

    Just gives you a clear warning, you then can investigate further. I have registered my BTL's and my own home, easy and simple, why not.


    Mine are all registered this way as well, I also keep a very close eye on all my properties, if one went up for sale I would know about it.

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    I have had that but an unknown intermediary at the time allegedly buying for a big Company, went to my property with their posh car suite up told my Tenants they come to view the house and they let them not knowing what was going on and poor command of English. Anyway they got past exchange of Contracts before I found out though someone I knew that also knew the buyer. I haven’t time to go into it right now but I got my Solicitors to put a block on it

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    you won’t see it up for sale those that done me are like property scouts selling your property as their own to a property Company, they are pretending to be legit with a ready made buyer in place.

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    Mine involved a crooked Solicitor and other properties as well as mine amounting to millions. The thing is we always register a properties when we buy but when we move house ourselves we don’t always re-Register all our existing properties to our new address for Service that’s the point, if you have a property borrowed up no worries they won’t touch that one, they do their home work and pick one that’s paid off then no lenders to get past.

  • George Dawes

    That’s terrifying, did you get it sorted in the end ?

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    I paid the Solicitors’s £350. to put a stop on it and Register it to my Home address for Service as I had move and didn’t think I needed to do this. The Solicitors wanted me to continue with Court Cases but I thought keep well clear of that time consuming costly nightmares. It was in the media at the time and gave up following the Cases I had enough in my plate.


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