October 2021 

The move to 100% e-conveyancing

The NSW Government has introduced new changes to the land titles system that will take effect from 11 October 2021. These changes stem from the Real Property Amendment (Certificates of Title) Act 2021 and will abolish the use of Certificate of Title documents (CTs) and establish a new era of 100% e-conveyancing.

What does this mean?

The Registrar General has published a summary of changes for landowners, namely:

  1. those who pay off their mortgage will no longer receive a CT, as was traditionally the case;
  1. a purchaser of property without the need for a mortgage (cash-buyer) will not receive a CT;
  1. when a plan of subdivision is registered, and new parcels of land created, CTs will no longer be issued for those parcels.

What should I expect?

The Torrens Title Register maintained by the NSW Land Registry Services (LRS) will continue to be the single source of truth regarding property ownership. This means title searches can still be carried out through the LRS.

Landowners should expect an Information Notice from the LRS instead of a CT. This notice will include:

  1. title details;
  1. dealing(s) registered, including their registration number(s) and dates;
  1. preferences of the subscriber (the person or entity authorised to complete electronic conveyancing transactions).

What do I need to do before the 11th of October 2021?

Steps to be taken by landowners before the ‘cessation date’ will depend on their situation:

  1. owners of unencumbered land (i.e. no mortgage) who have a CT do not have to do anything before or after 11 October 2021. After this date the CT will no longer be considered a legal document;
  1. landowners with a CT who plan to deal with their land in the next six months should hold onto the CT, even after 11 October 2021. This is because a transaction may begin before this date, but not yet be finalised. In this case, the CT may be needed to satisfy requisitions or other administrative notices issued before 11 October 2021;
  1. owners of unencumbered land who have another party such as a solicitor holding or storing their CT may request to have it back. However, from 11 October 2021 there will no longer be a remedy under the Real Property Act 1900 to require the return of a CT given it has no legal effect;
  1. solicitors who hold CTs on behalf of clients need to deal with them as the personal property of the client and prior to disposing of any CT or returning it should seek client instructions;
  1. for existing CTs there is no need to mark or note them as cancelled.

Harris Freidman are looking forward to this new phase of 100% e-conveyancing.  We will continue to retain all existing CTs on behalf of our clients in safe custody and will deal with them on a case by case basis according to each client’s request (whether they be retained, returned or securely destroyed).