Property fraud is one of the worst nightmares of home
owners, with recent reports of unidentified third parties attempting to sell
other peoples’ homes while the owner is abroad.
In July, an owner was living in South Africa and found that
his Canberra house had been sold after contacting his ACT property manager,
having not received four expected rental payments.
The ACT Police became involved to rectifying the issue.
However, what can you do to ensure that things don’t get
that far for your property? The Office of Regulatory Services has 15 steps that
all property owners can take to protect themselves.
They note that investment properties are generally more at
risk than owner-occupied homes.
STEPS TO TAKE:
- Before selecting an agent, ask questions about their
procedures when dealing with overseas owners.
- Keep in regular contact with your agent.
- Pre-establish security questions with your property
manager/agent, that only you will be able to answer, and requesting these
security questions be used whenever the property manager/agent contacts you.
The security questions should be established verbally and not written in an
email, as emails may be compromised if the account has been hacked.
- Regularly check that your property manager/agent has your
current and correct contact details on file.
- Ensure that your property manager/agent has a process in
place to verify any requests to change your contact details, for example by
sending notifications to both the old and new addresses, both electronic and
- Ensure that your property manager/agent has your correct
signature on file and that they check all signed documents to confirm the
- If travelling overseas, ask a family member or close friend
to keep an eye on your property and to keep in contact with your property
manager/agent on your behalf. This person should be introduced to the agent by
you and security questions should be established for them as well.
- If possible, keep in touch with neighbors so they can advise
you of any changes in the property.
- Check rental statements regularly.
- Protect personal information by using secured mailboxes for
mail deliveries and shredding or burning letters before disposing of them.
- Be wary of giving personal and/or financial information to
third parties, either by phone or email.
- When replying to an email, typing the known genuine email
address rather than simply clicking the ‘reply’ button – an email may have a
hidden address in it.
- Regularly change passwords for email and banking accounts.
- Never click on any links contained in emails from unknown
- Install anti-virus/anti-malware software on personal
computers and keep it up-to-date.
In this modern fast-paced commercial world it is reassuring
to know you have an experienced Corporate and commercial Lawyers Legal team
that will look after your interests. Contact affordable solicitors Noosa.
We hope these 15 steps to avoid property fraud assist you for now and in the future.