A Certificate of Title is a government-created document which provides evidence as to who owns a particular piece of land in WA.
The Certificate of Title is an important legal document in Western Australia describing among other things the location of the land, historically who have been past owners of the land, and the recorded encumbrances (if any) registered against that land.
Until 1996 all landowners in Western Australia were issued with a duplicate Certificate of Title (the original Certificate of Title being held by the Land Titles Office or Landgate as it is now known). In 1996 the issuing of a Certificate of Title became optional.
A Certificate of Title was one of those important documents that were safely and securely stored away along with your Will, Passport, and list of software login codes.
A Certificate of Title has often been used as a form of security for a financial loan whereby the lender would keep the Certificate of Title until the loan was repaid. During this period of time, the land owner could not sell or otherwise deal with the property because any transaction in relation to the property required the physical presentation of the Certificate of Title to the Land Titles Office. This way the loan was protected even though a formal mortgage or caveat had not been registered against the title to the land to protect the lender’s interests.
The Western Australian Parliament has recently passed amendments to the Transfer of Land Act 1893 (WA) and one of the results of which is that with effect from 7 August 2023 Certificates of Title will no longer exist in Western Australia.
Importantly, what this means is that not only will Certificates of Title not be issued any more, but any Certificate of Title currently in existence ceases to have any legal effect as and from 7 August 2023.
Therefore, if you hold a Certificate of Title to property as security for a loan or other interest in the property without having that interest registered on the Certificate of Title, then this security will no longer have any legal effect. You will need to urgently make alternative arrangements to protect your interests and secure payment of the loan or other interest being secured previously by the Certificate of Title.
If you are uncertain as to what to do you should seek legal services as quickly as possible. Bowen Buchbinder Vilensky has experience in dealing with interests in land and will be happy to provide further advice to you. Contact Bowen Buchbinder Vilensky on 08 9325 9644.