What is a title deed?
A title deed, most commonly known as a certificate of title, is a paper record showing the current owner and title particulars of a property.
Pre-1994, a paper title deed existed for every property in Queensland. Since 1994 the Queensland Land Titles Register has been electronic and paperless, and certificates of title have not been issued automatically by the Queensland Titles Office.
However, the government still allows property owners to have a certificate of title if they want one. Not many people do this, as the computerised system has been a success, and has simplified transactions where there is no certificate of title.
Where a certificate of title still exists, the old system still applies and certificate of title must be physically produced in order for property transactions to be registered. Where a certificate of title exists, sale contracts require the seller to hand it over to the buyer at settlement.
An owner of a property must specifically apply to obtain a paper certificate of title. If you have a mortgage on the property, then you will also need your mortgagee to consent to the issue of a certificate of title. The mortgagee will then want to hold the certificate of title as part of its security.
You can contact Ferguson Cannon Lawyers if you would like us to assist you in applying to obtain a paper certificate of title.
Where there is a certificate of title and it is lost, then the seller must follow a procedure, which is set out in this article.
In most friendly conveyances, the parties co-operate to solve the problem.
Where a conveyance is not so friendly, the seller must follow the procedure urgently, and hope that the problem is solved in time for settlement, so that the sale is not lost.
Ferguson Cannon can help with this.
What do I do if I cannot find my certificate of title?
The first step is to trace back who ordered the certificate of title on your behalf. You should call the Queensland Titles Office and ask them who the certificate of title was sent to when it was issued. It usually gets sent to the office of the solicitors who did your conveyancing, so that is the first place to check.
If you have no luck and still do not know the whereabouts of it, then the following steps need to be taken before you can sell or transfer your property.
Step 1 – Advertise
Public notice is usually required to be given when you have either lost or someone has stolen your certificate of title, in case someone out there has seen it or is aware of its whereabouts.
Advertisements are to be made either in the Courier-Mail if the property is within 50 kilometres from the Brisbane CBD or in another paper (approved by the Titles Office) if the property is further than 50 kilometres from the Brisbane CBD.
The cost of advertising varies depending on how much the newspapers charge, but they can be expensive.
If you have definitely destroyed the certificate of title, this step is not required.
After seven days from advertising, the application for dispensing the requirement for a title deed can be lodged, provided no caveat has been lodged .
Step 2 – Prepare a Statutory Declaration
The Queensland Titles Office usually requires statutory declarations from the registered owner and every other living person who had custody of the certificate of title.
The statutory declaration is quite complex to prepare so you should contact Ferguson Cannon to prepare these for you.
The statutory declarations will need to outline the date and person/company the certificate of title was last delivered to from the Titles Office. It must then show the history of every other person who had custody of it since then up until it was lost, stolen or destroyed.
You must also detail the steps you have taken to try and recover the certificate of title, including evidence of advertisement.
There are also other specific rules and guidelines to be followed in the preparation of the statutory declarations, so it is important that you consult a Solicitor.
What if my Solicitor or Bank lost my certificate of title?
This can happen if there is a theft, fire or a simple human error. In this case, a Form 17 Request to Dispense with Production of Instrument is required to be prepared along with a statutory declaration from the registered owner/owners with information about the deposit of the certificate of title with the third party Solicitor or Bank.
The third party is also required to provide supporting statutory declarations detailing the circumstances of the loss, destruction or theft of the certificate of title.
What happens if I find my certificate of title after this whole process?
This is not very uncommon, but if this does happen, all you have to do is simply return the certificate of title to the Titles Office so that they can destroy the document.
Ferguson Cannon Lawyer’s experienced property team can assist you with your conveyance, and an application to dispense of your certificate of title. Contact our team today if you need help.