When owners of holiday property, purchase their holiday home insurance, most do not think beyond the usual buildings, contents and public liability insurance. However, owing a home abroad, can be a tricky matter, laws regarding the acquisition and ownership of property may not be so robust as they are in the United Kingdom and it is not unknown for some owners to literally receive a knock on the door from someone challenging their right to own the property. As well as this unwelcome event, imagine on trying to sell your property, you suddenly discovered that you had no legal access to it. This may seem like the stuff of nightmares but their are may owners who have come unstuck and fallen victim to overseas property law. ( or lack of property law).
In the United Kingdom, we benefit from having our property titles guaranteed by the state, this is not the case in many European countries, land registry matters are not always clear and there are many occasions where persons will enter a claim to developed land claiming that it is their own. Dealing with property matters in your own country with a solicitor that speaks your language can be complicated enough, but having to deal with matters overseas with an expert that may not speak your language can present real difficulties and cause much worry and upset.( as well as cost).When you purchased your property you may have been satisfied with the lawyer you used but the reality of the matter is that even lawyers do make mistakes and many overseas lawyers carry little or no insurance to cover mistakes. You would expect a certain level of due diligence to have been carried out on your behalf but even with a good quality lawyer, challenges to title can arise and litigation to sort the matter out is expensive.
Common problems that can arise when buying overseas property include:
- Someone informs you that they have an interest in your home or you discover that ownership of your property is under threat due to fraud or forgery of documents by the previous owner.
- You documents are invalid because of problems with a power of attorney.
- A lender claims they are owed money on the property from a previous owner.
- You discover you have no legal access to and from your home.
- Someone builds a property which encroaches on to your land.
- Incorrectly signed or notarised document.
Intasure, a partner company of Assetsure can now offer an insurance policy that can help protect you against these scenarios. The European Home Protection Policy will cover yourself and can even be extended to cover a person who is buying your property from you or even persons that may inherit your property in the event of your death. Each year, your policy sum insured is increased in line with inflation. This type of policy is known as a ‘Defective Title’ contract. It is a general insurance policy that insures title to land and buildings to cover particular risks as set out within (and subject to the terms and conditions of the policy.) By purchasing this policy, it will help to provide you with peace of mind, when you purchase a property overseas by providing a valuable safety net in respect of those problems that can arise and affect property in a market other that that of the United Kingdom. As well as this, the policy will bear all legal costs and expenses in defending the title to your home and will ultimately compensate you, up to the sum insured, if you lose title to your home or the value of your home is reduced as a result of the title defect covered by the policy. ( as always, subject to terms and conditions).