The Registrar General of New South Wales (NSW) has declared that from 11 October 2021 (‘Cessation Day’), there will be no more paper certificates of title (“CT”) in the NSW land title system, becoming entirely electronic instead. The Real Property Amendment (Certificates of Title) Act 2021 will amend the Real Property Act 1900 (NSW) from 11 October in two main ways:
- The legal effect of paper certificates of title will be revoked and the requirement to produce a certificate of title in some land transactions will be removed; and
- The electronic lodgment (eConveyancing) of all land dealings in NSW will be accepted, including for leases.
Certificate of Title (CT) in the NSW Torrens Title system
In the NSW Torrens Title system, registration of a land dealing in the land registry constitutes conclusive evidence of ownership of property. A CT is a document issued by the land registry to record the owner of the property, as well other interests and dealings held by third parties over the property. However, advancements in technology have now rendered the use of actual paper certificates unnecessary. Cessation Day is indicative of NSW’s efforts to convert to an entirely digital conveyancing jurisdiction. This will modernise the NSW land title system, keeping it in line with other Australian jurisdictions including Queensland, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory who already no longer issue paper CTs.
Effects of the amendment on CTs
All existing NSW CTs for land will no longer be legally valid from 11 October 2021, and no new CTs will be issued. Instead, the NSW Land Registry Services (“NSW LRS”) will issue an Information Notice which will confirm the land title dealings registered and their date of registration. Additionally, in the event of a subdivision or consolidation of land, a new folio of the Register will be created.
But what are the practical implications for landowners?
- If you are the landowner and hold a paper CT, you do not need to take any action in response to these amendments. We encourage you to keep your CTs to comply with any requisitions or outstanding notices which are not finalised ahead of Cessation Day.
- If another party is holding the paper CT on your behalf, you may wish to have that CT returned to you. From Cessation Day, under the Real Property Act 1900 (NSW) a court may order for the CT to be returned to the NSW LRS and for the said CT to no longer have a legal effect.
Effects of the amendment on electronic lodgement
From Cessation Day, all dealings listed in the schedule of eDealings (which accounts for 99% of all land transactions) must be lodged electronically. Lodging these land dealings in paper form will not be permitted. The remaining 1% of land transactions will need to be prepared on paper but also lodged electronically with a ‘dealing of exception’ attached.
This change to electronic lodgement means that parties to land transactions will need to engage experienced lawyers, such as those at Etheringtons Solicitors, and licensed conveyancers to register their land dealings. Parties will also need to prove that they have a right to deal with the land, which may involve proving your identity with current documentation and establishing your connection to the property from an independent source.
Benefits of digital conveyancing
In the past, CTs have been used to reduce the risk of fraud in the paper system and as security for financing arrangements. The amendments aim to create a faster and more secure process in their stead. The cessation of paper CTs will make land dealing transactions easier and a better experience for all parties. The NSW LRS makes electronic title searches available in a fast, cost effective way to anyone wanting to verify ownership records. This removes the hassle of finding an original paper CT which can be time consuming to locate and replace. All land dealings are now registered online using electronic settlement platforms (including PEXA), making electronic lodgement a logical progression.
How Etheringtons Solicitors can help
A solicitor at Etheringtons Solicitors can provide clarification of the relevant law and its relation to your individual circumstances. If you need further advice or assistance with property law matters, please contact one of our experienced solicitors on (02) 9963 9800 or via our contact form.