Torrens Title Explained

The purpose of the Torrens system is to provide certainty of title to land.

Torrens Title is a South Australian invention that revolutionised the method of recording and registering land ownership. It is a system where land ownership occurs when the document that transfers ownership of the property is filed at the local Land Titles Office. The purpose of the Torrens system is to provide certainty of title to land.

The Torrens Title System was first introduced in SA in 1858 and subsequently used in other Australian states and around the world. Torrens Title is named after its inventor, Sir Robert Richard Torrens, who was instrumental in the implementation of this unique and efficient system of dealing with land. The system resulted from Sir Torrens' desire to improve on the old English land law system which was very complex, time consuming and expensive.

The main object of the Torrens Title System is to make the register conclusive. Once your name is registered on the Torrens Title register, you become the owner of the property to the exclusion of all others. You therefore obtain ‘title by registration', which is a pivotal concept of Torrens Title.

Under the system, a Certificate of Title exists for every separate piece of land. The certificate contains a reference that includes a volume and folio number, ownership details, easements and/or rights of way affecting the land and any encumbrances including mortgages, leases and other interests in the land.

Torrens Title is useful because it eliminates grounds for most dispute litigation, avoids the consequences of lost certificates and greatly reduces the costs of land sale and transfer. People can change the Torrens Register through lodging and registering a ‘dealing'.

Normally, the person who is recorded as the owner of a parcel of land cannot have their title challenged or overturned. This concept is known as 'indefeasibility' of title. There are, however, a few exceptions to this general rule such as if the land was registered fraudulently.