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Abolition of physical title deeds coming soon

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From 11 October 2021, physical ‘paper title deeds’ will be abolished in New South Wales. 

Evidence of legal ownership of a property will remain as established by the New South Wales LRS’s register of legal title – as it always has been, since the system of Torrens Title was created in 1863. 

The only real practical changes is that it will no longer be necessary, appropriate or even possible for a conveyancer to establish that someone has a ‘right to  deal’ with a certain property by their holding a particular title deed. 

Instead, the focus will be verifying a person’s identity to match the person recorded as registered proprietor on the Torrens Title register.

(There has been a huge focus in the conveyancing industry, even before the move to cancel Title Deeds,  on adherance to rigorous and consistent processes for verifying the identity of a transaction participant.

For example, it has essentially been illegal for a while now for a transaction to proceed without a conveyancer (or their appointed agent) meeting the client in person and having a physical interview in which identification documents are matched to the person’s physical likeness.

Failure of a conveyancer to adhere to these guidelines may result in them being suspended, terminated, or otherwise disciplined by their regulator.)

For those ‘paper-philes’, the Land Registry will still issue a document known as an ‘Information Notice’, which will confirm the dealings registered and date of registration. However this does not replace paper deeds of title, and is really just a transaction memento. It will not of itself establish title. 

What should I do?

There’s nothing to be afraid of about this move; it is the next logical progression of so-called ‘electronic’ or ‘paperless’ conveyancing.

The one thing you might wish to take away however is the increasing importance of having your identification documents (passports, driver’s licence etc.) in good order. If you’re missing any of these documents or if they contain any irregularties, now may be a good time to address this – particularly if you are planning a property transaction in the near future. 

If you have any questions about this article, please contact the office on 1800 870 407 and one of our solicitors/conveyancers will be able to assist.

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