Changes to the WA Transfer of Land Act
Changes to the WA Transfer of Land Act
Legislation passed WA Parliament on 16 June 2022 to support the continued modernisation of the state’s electronic land dealings, known as e-conveyancing.
More information is available in the Minister for Lands media statement.
The legislation - which is known as the Transfer of Land Amendment Act 2022 - makes three key changes to the Transfer of Land Act 1893:
- Removal of Duplicate Certificates of Title (Duplicate Titles) will occur on 7 August 2023.
- Enabling the issuing of statutory notices electronically 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 when regulations dealing with counterparts are passed.
These changes may be brought in at different times, after each provision is proclaimed to commence.
What do these changes mean?
Change One: The removal of duplicate (paper) certificates of title from WA’s titling system.
Where there is one issued, a Duplicate Title, is a paper version of the corresponding original Certificate of Title, with some differences and limitations. Read more in our Frequently Asked Questions and learn more with our handy Resources below.
Duplicate Titles have been a feature of the Titles Register since its inception in 1875 and have also been known as Title Deeds or Paper Titles.
From 7 August 2023, Duplicate Titles will no longer be issued and will be removed from WA’s land titling system. From this date, Duplicate Titles will no longer be created or issued. Any Duplicate Titles which are in existence from 7 August 2023 will no longer have any legal effect. Anyone who has a Duplicate Title will not need to return it to Landgate, destroy it or have it rendered invalid.
The removal and abolition of Duplicate Titles is part of the ongoing advancements in electronic conveyancing within Western Australia and nationally, in consultation with the conveyancing, legal and financial services industries. Removing Duplicate Titles will clarify and simplify all conveyancing in a way that does not detract from the integrity and security of the WA land Register.
As Duplicate Titles have been optional since 1996, we have been transitioning to this point for a long time. There are already over 55 per cent of freehold titles which are paperless, with no Duplicate Title issued.
Many people may not be aware that a Duplicate Title has a number of limitations. For example, caveats, memorials, notifications and property (seizure and sale) orders have never appeared on a Duplicate Title, so it may not give a true indication of the encumbrances associated with a parcel of land. Parties need to search the original Certificate of Title for this information.
Learn more about what these changes will mean for you with our animated explainer video, animated explainer video transcript and factsheet as well as our Frequently Asked Questions below. We also encourage you to follow our Facebook and LinkedIn pages to keep up to date.
If you are part of an industry group and would like us to present on the changes at an upcoming event from March 2023, please contact us via email at TLA.Amendments@landgate.wa.gov.au
Find out more
Find answers to your common questions about changes to WA’s Transfer of Land Act 1893 which relate to the abolition of duplicate (paper) titles:
What is a Certiﬁcate of Title?
A Certificate of Title is the original Certificate of Title which provides the legal record of land ownership in WA.
It records the current ownership details, a legal description of the land and all current registered dealings for a parcel of land. The original Certificate of Title has always been retained by Landgate (and its previous agencies). The original Certificate of Title is a computer record in the digital land titles Register.
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 (Duplicate Title)?
Duplicate Titles (also known as Title Deeds or Paper Titles), have been optional in WA for over 25 years with less than half of all freehold land now having a Duplicate Title issued.
A Duplicate Certificate of Title, (where there is one issued), is a paper version of the corresponding original Certificate of Title. It is a snapshot of the original Certificate of Title at the exact date and time the Duplicate Title was issued by the Registrar of Titles which shows the current registered proprietors and some encumbrances, however, unlike the original Title, it does not record information such as caveats, memorials, notifications and property (seizure and sales) orders, which have never been shown on a Duplicate Title.
Why are Duplicate Titles being removed from use in WA?
Electronic conveyancing continues to progress in WA and nationally, providing a safer way for property transactions to occur. The vast majority of land transaction documents are now lodged using electronic conveyancing networks. Having to produce a paper Duplicate Title for an electronic land transaction does not make sense. There are now safer ways to verify a right to deal on a Certificate of Title to record or register an interest in the land other than possession of a Duplicate Title. As Duplicate Titles have been optional for over 25 years, we have been transitioning to this point for a long time including creating safer legal frameworks into the state and national electronic conveyancing networks and registration processes.
If Duplicate Titles are removed, how do I prove my property ownership?
Property owners can be assured it is the original Certificate of Title held by Landgate in the land titles Register – not the Duplicate Title - which provides the complete legal, up to date evidence of their property’s ownership in Western Australia.
Property transactions which change the proprietorship on a Certificate of Title require the parties to the transaction to have their identity verified and to establish their right to deal on the property in that transaction.
You can order a Record of Certificate of Title Search via Landgate’s website.
When will the abolition of Duplicate Titles take eﬀect?
Duplicate Titles will be abolished from 7 August 2023. The timing of the change has taken into account consultation with the conveyancing, legal and financial services industries and allows enough time for industry and Landgate systems and processes to be ready for implementation. The timeframe also enables interest holders time to make alternate arrangements if they are holding a Duplicate Title as security for an unregistered loan.
Duplicate Titles continue to be optional until the change takes effect. Where a Duplicate Title has been issued, it is still valid and required to be produced for specified transactions until the amended law is brought in. The current requirements for the registration of land transaction documents will continue to apply until the implementation date in August 2023.
What will the transition process involve?
Before Duplicate Titles are abolished in August 2023, 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 such as the resources which are available earlier on this page.
Can I hold onto my Duplicate 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 in August 2023. If you are currently in possession of a Duplicate Title, it should still be stored securely until the change occurs to formally abolish Duplicate Titles from the land registration system on 7 August 2023.
You will still be able to obtain the information relating to a title by conducting a search of the digital (original) Certificate of Title. This search is called a Record of Certificate of Title and includes all current ownership and registered interests held in the WA land Register relating to that title at the time the search is undertaken.
You can order a Record of Certificate of Title Search via Landgate’s website.
How can I prove that I own my property if I can no longer use my Duplicate Title as evidence of this?
Many properties already don’t have a Duplicate Title, as they have been optional for over 25 years. Property transactions which change the proprietorship on a Certificate of Title, or the registration of a mortgage require the parties to the transaction to have their identity verified and to establish a right to deal in that transaction.
Verifying identity and the right to deal mitigates the risk of a fraudulent transaction and gives other parties confidence that they are transacting with the person who has the right to transact. You can also order a Record of Certificate of Title Search via Landgate’s website. This search includes all ownership and registered interests held in the WA land Register relating to that title at the time the search is undertaken.
It’s my property, why can’t I keep my Duplicate Title as proof of ownership?
It’s a misconception that holding a paper Duplicate Title provides absolute proof that a person is the true registered landowner, as it could have been fraudulently obtained or the Duplicate Title could be held as security by a mortgagee. A Duplicate Title may not show an accurate representation of registered interests against a property if there are Memorials, Notifications, Caveats or Property (Seizure and Sale) Orders registered, as a Duplicate Title has never displayed this information. This information is only shown on the original Certificate of Title which is stored by Landgate as a computer record as the single source of truth.
Once the changes come into effect on 7 August 2023, any Duplicate Titles in existence will no longer have any legal effect.
How is electronic conveyancing making property transactions safer?
The vast majority of land transactions are now lodged through WA’s electronic conveyancing network which 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 landowners or other parties to land transactions to establish their right to deal on the property in addition to verification of their identity.
- 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 safeguarded by cyber security practices that are specified by the Government of Western Australia’s Cyber Security policy which provides a comprehensive and systematic approach to mitigate cyber risk and protect personal information. Both the WA Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Cyber Security Unit and Landgate have security monitoring to detect and respond to any unusual activity identified.
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.
Most transactions on the land titles Register require Verification of Identity and verification of right to deal to be undertaken by conveyancing professionals and mortgagees to establish that the person who is transacting on the title is who they purport to be and that they have the right to deal with the property.
Verifying identity and the right to deal mitigates the risk of a fraudulent transaction and gives other parties confidence that they are transacting with the person who has the right to transact.
Where is my Certiﬁcate of Title data stored?
All Certificates of Title in WA are securely held within the State’s digital land titles Register as a computer record.
That digital data is stored within Australia, as recommended by the WA Government’s Data Offshoring Position.
Why were Duplicate Titles needed before but now they aren’t?
The Torrens title land registration system was introduced to Western Australia in 1875. A Duplicate Title was required to be produced for most land transactions so that a record of the transaction could be written or typed onto both the original Certificate of Title and the corresponding Duplicate Title when they were both held in paper form. In 1996, amendments to the Transfer of Land Act 1893 paved the way for WA’s land title Register to become digital and for the introduction of electronic conveyancing.
Issuing a Duplicate Title became optional at this time because electronic conveyancing was designed to operate without a paper-based title. Technology and security measures have continued to evolve. There are now safer ways to verify a right to deal on a Certificate of Title to record or register an interest in the land other than having possession of a Duplicate Title. We have been transitioning to this point for a long time and we have now established safer legal frameworks into the state and national electronic conveyancing networks and registration processes.
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, publicly searchable Register.
Upon payment of the fee prescribed by the Transfer of Land Regulations 2004, a person can order a Record of Certificate of Title to find current ownership and registered interest information for the specified Western Australian property.
Information on historical records, Crown leases, surveys and documents which form part of the land Register, such as transfers, mortgages, easements and caveats, are available for searching. For assistance, email CustomerService@landgate.wa.gov.au
I am holding a Duplicate Title as security for a loan I made to a relative/associate. What should I do?
Parties seeking to claim security over land should show their claim on the land Register by registration against the appropriate Certificate of Title if they want to enforce priority over subsequent creditors. Registration is the key to enforcing a claim of security over land. Parties should consider obtaining advice from a qualified industry professional before August 2023 to find out how to best protect their interest.
How do I know if there is a Duplicate Title for my property or not?
To confirm if there is a Duplicate Title for your property, you can order a Record of Certificate of Title Search via Landgate’s website . This is a true copy of the original Certificate of Title. Please note, this information cannot be provided over the phone.
If you purchased your property or had your property transferred to you with no mortgage, a Duplicate Title may have been returned to you by your settlement agent or lawyer after settlement.
If there is no Duplicate Title issued, there will be a note at the bottom of the original Certificate of Title (Record of Certificate of Title) which states “DUPLICATE CERTIFICATE OF TITLE NOT ISSUED AS REQUESTED BY DEALING “X123456”. If there is no such note, a Duplicate Certificate of Title exists.
(Notes referring to Dup C/T not produced for dealing “K789789” indicate that there is a Duplicate Title.)
Once the changes come into effect on 7 August 2023, there will be no notes regarding Duplicate Titles shown on the title, as Duplicate Titles will no longer exist.
How do I know if my Bank has my Duplicate Title?
If there is a Duplicate Title issued for your property (see above FAQ) and there is a registered mortgage on the title, the mortgagee would usually hold the Duplicate Title as part of their security under current established practices. After the changes to abolish Duplicate Titles come into effect on 7 August 2023, there is no obligation for existing Duplicate Titles to be returned to Landgate.
Duplicate Titles became optional in 1996 and from about 2004 it became regular practice for bank mortgages to opt to make the title paperless. If you registered a mortgage with a bank since about 2004, it is likely that your title will have become paperless and unlikely that the bank would hold it.
If you have a mortgage registered pre-2004, the bank/mortgagee would most likely hold the Duplicate Title as security for the loan.
Please note, this information cannot be provided over the phone.
Do I have to do anything?
Most people won’t need to do anything, including if your bank holds your Duplicate Title. If there is a Duplicate Title for your property being kept in a safe location, you can keep it if you would like to, but it will no longer be a legal document and won’t be required to register land transactions after the specified date in August 2023.
If you have loaned someone money and have their Duplicate Title as security for the loan, you should consider getting advice from a qualified industry professional to find out how to best protect your interest. You should take action before August 2023.
If I have a mortgage now which I discharge in a few years’ time, does the bank need to notify me if I want the Duplicate Title?
After the implementation date on 7 August 2023, there will no longer be any Duplicate Titles issued. Any pre-existing Duplicate Titles will no longer have any legal effect and will not be required to register land transactions after the implementation date.
I lost my Duplicate Title, do I still need to apply for a new one before August 2023?
If you have lost your Duplicate Title and you require the Duplicate Title to deal on your land on or before 4 August 2023, then you will need to complete an Application for a Replacement Duplicate Certificate of Title . If you are not seeking to transact on your land, this will be up to you. You could apply to replace the lost Duplicate Title by meeting the current registration requirements and paying the regulated fee, however the resulting Duplicate Title will no longer have any legal effect from 7 August when Duplicate Titles are abolished.
Can I have a Duplicate Title printed so I can have one for historical purposes?
No. From 7 August 2023 no Duplicate Titles can be printed or issued.
Is WA the only state doing this?
No. By removing the use of Duplicate Titles, Western Australia is coming into line with most other states in Australia.
Is there more I can do to increase security of my title?
The Verification of Identity practice for owners and others who sign a range of real property documents provides a secure transaction framework across Australia and reduces the risk of fraud. Each land title is guaranteed by the State Government. Some simple things you can consider for additional peace of mind could include:
- If you are an owner, you can ensure your postal address shown on your title is kept up to date. This address could be used as your address for service of notices if Landgate, the Registrar of Titles or the Commissioner of Titles needs to contact you. This is a free service requiring a simple form to be signed and lodged with us,
- Review your Power of Attorney and Enduring Power of Attorney arrangements to ensure they reflect current intentions.
- You can order a copy of your title anytime online. This is a quick and cost-effective way to check the current details on your title.
- Subscribing to TitleWatch (paid service) which gives you immediate alerts to tell you about changes to your Certificate of Title for 12 months.
Change Two: Enable the electronic service of statutory notices.
This change in legislation allows for the formal service of notices from the Registrar of Titles and the Commissioner of Titles to be served electronically such as via email. This replaces the former limitation on sending formal notices by post or fax. These options for the service of notices will continue to be available as they are currently until document lodging parties, caveators, registered proprietors and registered interest holders have the option and ability to provide an appropriate email address for service of notices for their address and once supporting regulations have been passed.
Change Three: Clarify the definition of counterpart documents.
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).
This provision will come into effect once there are corresponding regulations available.
If you have feedback or questions which are not covered in the FAQs, please contact us at