*The contents in this blog relates to legislation in New South Wales.

As of 11 October 2021 all paper Certificates of Title were abolished in order that the NSW Government’s goal of 100% online conveyancing could be achieved.

So what does this mean? It means that physical control of a paper Certificate of Title is no longer prima facie evidence of right to deal with the property. Traditionally, if you were wanting to sell your unencumbered property you would attend the office of your Solicitor with your paper Certificate of Title and your photo ID and then provide instructions to sell your property.

Now that paper Certificate of Titles have been abolished, your Solicitor will need to do a title search to confirm the ownership of the property and obtain the required identification documents to ensure that the person or people on the title search to the property are the people or persons in the office providing instructions to sell the property with the paper Certificate of Title.

This means that now for Solicitors acting on behalf of a Vendor of unencumbered property there is an added layer of responsibility and checking involved. This is because there is a legal obligation on Solicitors to ensure that they have properly verified the identity of their client and that their client has the right to deal as regards to that property.

So what is needed to verify the identity of someone wanting to deal with their interest in real property? If there is a paper Certificate of Title then this is a good start together with the most recent local council rates notice and a loan statement, should the property be encumbered by a Mortgage. As stated above, a title search will also need to be carried out on the property. In addition, an original current driver licence or photo card and current Passport should also be provided. There are other documents that can be provided if these are not available and further enquiries should be made with the Solicitor as to what can be accepted. The Solicitor is required to take “all reasonable steps” to ensure that the identification of their client is verified and this is determined in each case on its own merits and circumstances.

For owners of unencumbered property holding a paper Certificate of Title, this is now of sentimental value only. There is no requirement to return your paper Certificate of Title to the NSW Land Registry Services.

Please do not hesitate to contact one of our Property Lawyers if you have any questions as regards to the abolition of paper Certificates of Title or verification of identification.