What is Involved in a Title Search?

What is Involved in a Title Search?

2 April, 2024

It is important for any property owner or interested party to understand the significance of the title to a particular parcel of land.

The certificate of title is an official land ownership record which notes the interests, rights and restrictions affecting the land. It is a document that is recorded, stored and issued by the registrar of titles in a particular state or territory of Australia.

When conducting a search for a title, it is important to note that in addition to the title document, there may be other documentation that is relevant to the beneficial use and development of the land.

Relevant Documentation

  • Title Certificate

This document contains important information about the property, including the legal description of the property, the names of the current and previous owners, and any encumbrances or restrictions on the property.

  • Title Plan

A title plan diagram is an image that describes the legal boundaries of a property and the location of any easements or restrictions that apply on the date that the title was registered.

  • Dealings Including Restrictions, Third Party Entitlements and Obligations

There are several other documents that may be described in the certificate of title and which must be retrieved if they apply to the land. The following are examples of the restrictions and entitlements that may apply:

Easements: An easement is a common type of encumbrance that gives a person or company the right to use part of a property owned by someone else. For example, easements may allow gas, water or sewerage to flow through the property, and are often granted to local councils or statutory authorities. Other easements may relate to rights of carriageway.

Liens: A lien refers to a legal claim or a right against property. The purpose of a lien is to provide security, enabling a person or organisation to take property or take other legal action to satisfy a debt or obligation. Liens are typically part of the public record, letting potential creditors and others know about existing debts.

Leases: A lease agreement grants a tenant exclusive possession over land and is transferable after a sale if the lease is current. If a property is sold with a tenant in a current lease, they will continue to occupy the property until the lease expires. Commercial leases are usually registered on title, whereas residential leases are not.

Covenants: A covenant is a type of restriction on the use or development of land that focuses on the type of building or activity permitted.

Caveats: The word caveat means beware. It is a record on the title that there is another party with a priority interest in the land. This interest is recognised by registering it on the title.  Examples of legally recognised interests include the holder of a mortgage or other debt or someone with an estate entitlement over the land.

How to Search for a Title

Step 1: Conduct a search for the title document

Search for the title document using either the street address or the volume and folio number of the property. It should be noted that the volume and folio number is the most accurate identifier of the land, as the street number is sometimes subject to variation. The initial title search will reveal the following information:

  • Description of the land
  • Name(s) of the current owners(s) and addresses(es)
  • Manner of holding
  • Restrictions
  • Any dealings affecting the title
  • Any unregistered dealings affecting the title

Step 2:
Secure a copy of the plan

This will confirm the legal boundaries of a property and the location of any easements on the date that the title was registered.

Step 3: Secure a copy of any related documents

This is essential information if there are any restrictions or third-party interests recorded on the title, such as:

  • Easements
  • Liens
  • Lease
  • Covenants
  • Legal agreements
  • Caveats