New alert service highlights land registry 'scam' threat

IFA's farm business chairman Martin Stapleton
IFA's farm business chairman Martin Stapleton

Martin Ryan

Irish landowners have been alerted to the operation of a 'scam' through which ownership to their property could be undermined online by high-tech international fraudsters.

With the ending of the traditional deeds documents for land and property in Ireland over recent years, all registrations of ownership are now online.

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IFA farm business chairman Martin Stapleton told the Farming Independent that the problem was first detected in the UK and measures have now been put in place in Ireland to provide an additional guard against interference with the titles to farm property.

He said it has not been confirmed how many instances of such 'fraud' have been detected in the UK, but there is concern that it could also happen in this country.

"In Ireland the risk appears to be greatest where there are derelict houses, but in the UK, isolated agricultural land where the owner is away or maybe incapacitated, somebody else goes online and registers as the owner of the property without the actual owner being aware of the action to take over the ownership of the property," he explained.

"They are then in the position to sell it because they appear as the registered owner and the transaction can be completed without the actual owner of the land knowing anything about it," he added.

Safeguard

Mr Stapleton said that the Property Registrations Authority (PRA) has now put in place an added safeguard for land and property owners which should be availed of to prevent fraud.

The online service available to the public will allow property owners to monitor registered properties for possible fraudulent activity.

Users of the service will receive email and/or text alerts when an application has been lodged with the PRA to update the Land Register.

The Property Registration Authority says that while the new alert service will not prevent fraud from happening, it provides an early warning system that will allow owners to take appropriate action should they believe fraudulent activity has happened with their property.

"What they have done is to provide a new 'add on' to the online registration which can be opted into, and the owner will then be immediately notified of any online activity relating to the property," Mr Stapleton said.

"It is a very worthwhile protection and we would advise farmers to be aware of the risks of what has happened in the UK occurring here and avail of the extra protection that is now there," he added.

To register, landowners should log on to landdirect.ie and follow the instructions to register.

When you register your contact details with the property, you will be notified by email or text if an application for registration is received for this folio in the next 10 years.

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