5 tricks to stop your property being sold by strangers guide, House sale without notice advice

5 Simple Tricks To Prevent Your Property Being Sold By Strangers Without Your Notice?

21 March 2022

We often come across newspaper reports of houses and properties being sold by fraudsters to unassuming buyers. These practices are highly illegal, as, after all, you cannot sell what does not belong to you. These instances, though sporadic, are unfortunately more common than you might think.

This article explores in detail how property fraud happens and about English Land Law and Adverse Possession. We have listed 5 ways how one can detect and prevent these. We will also see what are the legal exemptions to the situations where the sale is done by non-owners.

5 tricks to stop property being sold by strangers

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How Can Non-Owners Of A House Sell It?

The sale of a house or a property by a non-owner is illegal in the UK unless they can successfully apply for adverse possession in a court of law. More on that in a minute.

When we talk about fraudulent sales, it happens when someone sells a property without any legal claim and/or the permission of the owner. This often occurs when scammers pose as property agents or even as the landowners themselves. The perpetrator can resort to means like identity theft, and by accessing the personal details of the actual landowners. The illegal acquisition might also happen if the culprits steal land documents.

This sale might lead to the supposed “new owners” forcefully moving into the property, thus leading to the legal occupants or owners losing access to it.

This leads to a huge legal headache for the owners because they will have to evict the land unless their rightful ownership is proven in court. This process can be quite long and drawn out, as to reacquire their land, an investigation will have to take place.

Once challenged in court, an investigation will be ordered. This will look into how the land was sold in the first place and whether the buyers knew about the fraud. It will also examine whether the accused have any stakes or interest in the property. This might take years to prove favourable to the existing house owners.

How To Prevent Fraudulent Sale Of Your Property

Thus, it is very important to nip the problem in the bud, instead of seeking remedial measures after the fraud happens. It is essential to exercise caution when it comes to your property title interest and deed documents.

Before we examine the steps which need to be taken, we need to know about a provision in the law called “Adverse Possession”. It has been described below.

About The English Land Law

The historically important English Land Law is the governing law protecting real estate and immovable properties in England and Wales. It is encompassed within the English Property Law, which also covers English Trusts Law, English Personal Property Law and the UK Intellectual Property Law.

It depends on three sources to establish property rights. These are common law, equitable principles of the courts, and the system of land registration.

What Is Adverse Possession?

According to UK Laws, ‘adverse possession’ is a situation where a non-owner occupies a land without the owner’s permission and applies to acquire it legally. The occupation is not always a conscious practice; it might also arise from clerical errors in the registration of land, and a portion of someone’s property might end up in someone else’s land.

The Land Registry Act of 2002 enforced a principle that a person occupying a registered land for more than 10 years can apply legally to acquire its title of possession.

The scenario which we are discussing, however, almost always occurs due to an intentional motive such as trespassing and fraud. The culprits might also raise mortgages and thus, force your property into entering foreclosure.

This adverse possession can be challenged in a court, and often, the defending party loses out on their claims on the land. This has deemed the legal principle to be quite controversial.

It is highly crucial that you must be able to override any exemptions under which adverse possession of your property will be granted to the new disputed owners. You should keep the following things in mind:

  • Proof Of Possession

You must be able to prove the factual, single and exclusive possession of the land. Take proper care of all your documents, You must be able to prove the factual, single and exclusive possession of the land. Take proper care of all your documents, as they are crucial to proving your ownership. As discussed before, fraudsters posing as owners or agents might come into possession of legal documents, and use it to their advantage. Make copies of the documents for urgent purposes, and stow away the originals as safely as you can.

  • Ensure Proper Maintenance

The property must be put to productive use, or at least be well-maintained, so as to not incite any charges of wrongdoing on the grounds of negligence. Even if you wish to leave your land fallow, make sure that it at least keeps up the appearances of a looked after property. This will also keep fraudsters at bay, as they usually target properties that might look unkempt so that they get away with illegal sales.

  • Check-In Occasionally

As the rightful owner of any property, it is your duty to occasionally inspect the premises of your house or land. Consistently ensure that there is no illegal occupation of your land so that later in case of any dispute, there arise no issues regarding “squatter’s rights” on the property. Periodic surveillance is highly recommended.

  • Keep Getting Legal Updates

It is also really important that you frequently keep track of the legal status of your property and make sure it is compliant with all the laws. There is a concept called Estoppel, which prevents the original owners from making any claims in the courts of law to reacquire their property that was wrongfully sold. This happens on the grounds of “providing consent” without thinking, in the form of even verbal promises. Keep in check how you deal with legal matters of your property because it might be unfairly used against you.

  • Hire A Reliable Agency

This is a highly convenient method of taking care of your property. Entrust a good real estate agency to handle various aspects of your property. Regular property inspections and valuations are very ideal, as they can decipher if there are any legal hurdles in your property. This will also make sure that you have professionals helping you out with the matters of your house. The other advantage of inspections is that they are non-invasive assessments to evaluate the condition of a property’s interiors and exteriors. Thus you will also be able to keep an eye out for any problems in the property’s nooks and corners.

On An Ending Note

In this article, we have examined all the ways in which you can prevent your property from being taken from you illegally and unfairly.

You have to be really alert to prevent any misappropriation of your land. As discussed before, take care of all documents and visit your property timely and in person frequently.

You can entrust a good real-estate agency to look after your land. Also, have someone you can trust to frequently check-in and monitor activity that might point to the fraud happening on your land. This way, you will be able to prevent your land from being sold by strangers without your permission.

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