The importance of land titles and property ownership in Australia
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Land owners need to prove their ownership of a section of land.
Documents relating to transactions with the land are known as the "title deeds" and there may have been several changes of ownership over time. Title details are normally recorded on a centralised register. This is an important information source that needs to be researched prior to any land transaction.
A purchaser will rely on the information on the land register as to the rights and interests of various parties recorded there, with subsequent usage and development of the land having regard to such rights and interests.
It's important for buyers to inform themselves when certain encumbrances exist on the Title - or risk having a deal fall over. An encumbrance is a registered interest in land by a person who is not the land owner, and any encumbrances on a property can usually be found listed on the Certificate of Title.
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. Another common easement is a right of carriageway through a property to the benefit of an entity that is not the owner.
A restrictive covenant is another form of restriction on the use of the land. It may include restrictions on the number of dwellings that can be constructed, the use of building materials or the size of buildings. Restrictive covenants are common in new developments, in which developers use restrictive covenants to ensure that properties maintain a level of uniformity.
Example of a certificate of title.
A Certificate of Title is a person's record of interests and rights affecting their land. It provides documentary evidence of the right of ownership.