What is Torrens Title? Property investment terms explained

What is Torrens Title? Property investment terms explained
What is Torrens Title? Property investment terms explained

If you've seen the term Torrens Title and you're not sure what it means, you're not alone. However, chances are you're more familiar with the concept than you think. Despite the unusual name, based on Robert Richard Torrens who pioneered this now land transfer method, this is actually one of the more common ways to take over ownership of property.

Torrens Title is a land title system where the ownership is transferred through registering the title, rather than the deeds. Land transfer is noted in a register of ownership and essentially, this removes the requirement of searching beyond the Certificate of Title to confirm details of ownership. Torrens was introduced to resolve the difficulty, keeping details of when the property was purchased, the location, measurement and other details.

Essentially, the registered proprietor is said to then have an 'indefeasible title', which means that there are very limited circumstances when ownership, or title, can be challenged, and as a result conveyancing has become a lot easier. The transactions undertaken prior to Torrens Title regularly required extensive and laborious research to discover if any unregistered interests existed.

The Torrens Title system was introduced into Australia in the mid-1800s and it is now one of the most common ownership structures. Torrens Title is strongly linked to the adapted Strata Title system, introduced much later, which is the structure used for ownership of apartment buildings and units. While with the common Torrens title you own both the house and the land, and you are responsible for the upkeep of both, Strata Title provides ownership of the inside of the property but co-ownership of joint areas and joint responsibility for upkeep of these spaces. Previously, a company structure was used, however this had numerous difficulties - particularly in regards to upkeep of common property.

New South Wales' Land and Property Information government portal explains that it is used to record details such as the following:

  1. Easements
  2. Covenants
  3. Mortgages
  4. Resumptions
  5. Caveats
  6. Subsequent changes in ownership

Notably, New South Wales was the first worldwide to computerise details of the Torrens Title register.

Most people understand the Torrens Title system, as it is common across the country and the most usual form of transfer, and so it does make life simpler when selling property. However, there are benefits of Strata Title - particularly when looking at subdivisions with shared driveways or other common areas that require a distinct formal agreement over upkeep.

Observer Jo Chivers previously explained her thought process surrounding choosing a Strata Title or Torrens Title for a new subdivision development.

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke was a property writer at Property Observer

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