Changes to the WA Transfer of Land Act

New legislation passed WA Parliament on 16 June 2022 to support the continued modernisation of the state’s electronic land dealings, known as e-conveyancing.

Read the Minister for Lands media statement.

Amendments to WA’s Transfer of Land Act will remove duplicate certificates of title from use, enable the electronic service of notices and clarify the definition of counterpart documents.

These changes will not take effect in Western Australia until the amended law is proclaimed to commence, with implementation of the different provisions as per the following:

  • Removal of duplicate titles will occur 12 months after proclamation by the Governor and publication in the Government Gazette, with exact timing to be confirmed after industry consultation.
  • Enablement of electronic notices will be staged in its implementation for different notice types, as regulations dealing with notices are passed and systems become available.
  • Clarification of the definition of counterpart documents will commence immediately on the Royal Assent from the Governor of the legislation.

Revisit this page for updates, as new information will be shared here to support industry groups and those with interests in land to understand and prepare for the changes.

Three key changes

Once in effect, the Transfer of Land Amendment Act 2021 will enact legislative change to:

1. Remove duplicate (paper) certificates of title from WA’s titling system.

The removal of duplicates is part of the ongoing advancements that are happening across electronic conveyancing within Western Australia, in consultation with conveyancing and financial services industries.

All certificate of titles in WA are securely held within the State’s digital land register as a computer record. Paper duplicates are increasingly out of place in this secure digitised system and their use has heavily declined in recent decades (to the point where 99 per cent of property transfers in 2021 involving a mortgage did not have a duplicate issued).

Property owners can be assured that it is the digital certificate of title held by Landgate’s central land title register which provides the complete legal evidence of their property’s ownership in Western Australia - not the duplicate paper copy.

Find answers to your common questions about changes to WA's Transfer of Land Act that relate to the removal of paper (duplicate) certificate of title.

What is a certificate of title?

A certificate of title provides the legal record of land ownership in Western Australia.

It records the current ownership details, a legal description of the land and all registered dealings for a parcel of land.

Every certificate of title in Western Australia is registered and guaranteed by the State Government through its central, digital land title register

What is a duplicate certificate of title?

A duplicate certificate of title is a paper version of the digital (original) certificate of title.

Duplicate (paper) titles (also known as the Title Deed) have been optional in WA for over 25 years, with the vast majority of property transfers no longer involving a duplicate title. 99% of property transfers involving a mortgage did not have a duplicate title issued in 2021.

A duplicate title is a snapshot of what the digital title looked like at the exact date and time the duplicate title was issued. However, unlike the digital title, it does not record information such as caveats, memorials and notifications.

Why are duplicate titles being removed from use in WA?

Electronic conveyancing continues to progress in WA, providing a safer way for property transactions to occur.

All certificate of titles in Western Australia are securely held within the State’s digital land register as a computer record.

Paper duplicates are increasingly out of place in this secure digitised system and legislation passed through WA Parliament on 16 June 2022 to remove them from use.

Property owners can be assured that it is the digital certificate of title held by Landgate’s central land register which provides the complete legal evidence of their property’s ownership in Western Australia - not the duplicate paper copy.

The removal of duplicates is part of the ongoing advancements that are happening across electronic conveyancing within Western Australia and nationally, in consultation with conveyancing and financial services industries.

When will the removal of duplicate titles take effect?

Duplicate certificates of title (paper) continue to be optional and where a duplicate title is issued, is still valid and required to be produced for specified transactions until the amended law is brought in.

The timing of this will be 12 months after proclamation by the Governor and publication in the Government Gazette.

Further timing updates will be provided by Landgate through its website and customer information bulletins.

What will the transition process involve?

Prior to this new legislation taking effect, there will be a transition period where Landgate will inform industry and the broader community about what’s required to prepare for this change.

This support will include industry information sessions and public education.

Can I hold onto my duplicate certificate of title after this change?

Yes, you can hold onto your duplicate title as a historical keepsake, but it will have no legal effect once the amended law takes effect.

If at any time you wish to secure a paper copy of the digital (original) certificate of title that is held in the WA land register for your property, you can order a copy via Landgate’s website.

The paper printout and search of your title is called ‘a record of certificate of title’ and is current at the time the search is undertaken and includes all details relating to that title.

It’s my property, why can’t I keep my duplicate title as proof of ownership?

It is a misconception that the possession of a paper duplicate title provides absolute proof that a person is the true registered landowner, as it could have been fraudulently obtained.

The Registrar and Commissioner of Titles at Landgate have in place alternative, more secure ways of confirming a right to deal, such as the Verification of Identity and Authority to Deal practice (known as ‘VOI practice’).

Both now and in the future, it is the digital certificate of title held by Landgate’s central land title register which provides the complete legal evidence of your property’s ownership in Western Australia - not the duplicate paper copy.

How is electronic conveyancing making property transactions safer?

WA’s electronic conveyancing system has a range of secure checks in place for land transactions that reduce the risk of fraud. These include:

  • A closed trusted and insured group of professionals undertaking transactions.
  • An obligation for landowners to undergo a verification of identity process at the time of putting the property on the market and once again with the settlement agent or lawyer who undertakes the conveyancing.
  • An obligation for have landowners to establish their right to deal on the property.
  • A client authorisation process.
  • Banking institutions use sophisticated software to profile financial transactions.

What is Landgate doing to secure my land title? How do I know my title won’t be subject to cyber-attacks?

The security of WA’s digital land titles register is comprehensively safeguarded, with Landgate aligned to the information security practices that are recommended by the WA Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Cyber Security Unit, as well as the federal Australian Cyber Security Centre.

The data back-ups for the registry are completed in line with the Information Security Management Guide (ISO27001), which is the international best practice standard published by the International Organisation for Standardisation.

Where is my certificate of title data stored?

All certificate of titles in Western Australia are securely held within the State’s digital land register as a computer record.

That digital data is stored within Australia, as recommended by the WA Government’s Data Offshoring Position.

Why were duplicates needed previously but now they aren’t?

In 1996, amendments to the Transfer of Land Act 1893 paved the way for WA’s digital land title register and the introduction of electronic conveyancing.

Issue of a duplicate certificate of title became optional at this time because electronic conveyancing was designed to operate without a paper-based certificate of title.

This change represents the next phase of the transition away from paper-based settlement processes.

Who has access to my land title information?

WA’s land titles register is, and always has been, an open, public searchable register.

For a prescribed fee, anyone can continue to order a copy of a certificate of title to find current ownership information for any property in Western Australia.

Information on historical records, Crown leases, surveys and documents which also form part of the land register, such as transfers, mortgages, easements and caveats, are also available for searching. For assistance, email TLA.Amendments@landgate.wa.gov.au

2. Enable the electronic service of notices to further modernise the administration of the land registry and overcome existing limitations.

The change in legislation allows for the formal service of notices from the Registrar of Titles and the Commissioner of Titles to be served electronically. For example, by email. This replaces the former limitation on sending formal notices by post or fax.

The postal and fax options for the service of notices will continue to be available as they are currently until caveators, registered proprietors and registered interest holders have the option and functionality to have an acceptable email address for their address for service of notices.

Find answers to your common questions about changes to WA's Transfer of Land Act that relate to the electronic service of notices.

Will I have to provide an email address to receive notices regarding my titles?

Customers will not be required to provide details for electronic notices and service by traditional methods can still occur.

What are the changes associated with service of notices?

The amendments will permit more electronic notices to be issued and provide clarity around the service of them. Providing a fax number as an address for service of notices moving forward will no longer be an option. Fax machines are becoming redundant, and many customers have already phased them out of use. The amendments will also remove outdated means of providing notices, such as placing a notice in a Post Office or in the Landgate offices.

Can notices still be sent to fax numbers?

The amendments will remove the sending of notices via fax machines for future lodged land documents, as this technology is fast becoming replaced with the use of email. Notices will be able to be sent by fax after the commencement of the Act only where a fax address for service was nominated on a lodged document before the commencement of the Act.

I provided a fax number as an address for service of notice when I lodged a caveat. Do I have to change it?

Notices will be able to be sent by fax after the commencement of the Act where a fax address for service was nominated on a lodged document before the commencement of the Act.

When will the electronic notices provisions will take effect?

After regulations have been passed when Landgate systems are ready for the change.

What regulations are needed?

Regulations are required for the new service of notice provisions. These regulations will provide the details of how service will be effected and when notices are sent and received. These will be drafted and gazetted after the Bill is passed.

3. Clarify the definition of counterpart documents, improving mortgage processing and enforceability.

This clarification will permit there to be small differences between the electronic and paper documents to account for the subtle and unavoidable differences in the paper and digital version of the same document (for example, physical signature versus digital signatures or where the paper digital documents are in different formats but still have the same provisions).

Contact us

Email: TLA.Amendments@landgate.wa.gov.au

This page was last updated on: 17 Jun 2022