What is a title?
In Victoria, most land is owned under a system of title by registration known as “Torrens title”. A land title is an official record of who owns a particular piece of land.
If you own land under the Torrens title system, the original title to your land is held by the Victorian Registrar of Titles. If you lose the original title to your land, you may be entitled to a copy known as a “Certificate of Title”. You can apply for a copy through the Victorian Registrar of Titles.
The Certificate of Title also shows your name, the date the certificate was created and all recordings made at the time, including any mortgages and caveats.
Although the Victorian Registrar of Titles will generally issue only one Certificate of Title, if you lose your Certificate of Title you may apply to Land Victoria for a new one to be issued.
If your land title has previously been converted to an electronic Certificate of Title, a new Certificate of Title will not be issued.
Some land in Victoria is under the Torrens title system. If this is the case, you will need to apply to Land Victoria to register your land under this system. We recommend that you consult a lawyer with relevant experience. Refer to the Law Institute of Victoria Legal Referral Service website or call (03) 9607 9550.
This information sheet deals only with the requirements to replace a paper Torrens Certificate of Title.
What do I need to do?
Try to find the Certificate of Title
First you should check whether you or someone else holds the Certificate of Title. If your land is subject to a mortgage, the Certificate of Title is usually held by whoever loaned the money to you (Mortgagee), often your bank. If you have any concerns or cannot remember whether you have repaid your mortgage, ask your Mortgagee or their lawyers.
How do I identify the Certificate of Title?
There are two types of paper Certificates of Title in Victoria:
- Older Certificates of Title produced on heavy, cream-coloured paper, in either A4 or B4 sizes. The words "Certificate of Title" are printed at the top of the title and the volume and folio numbers in the top right-hand corner. Usually these titles will also include a map or a diagram. These titles record all transactions with the land and are endorsed with printed or handwritten details.
- Newer, computerised titles in A4 size. These are printed on blue security paper with a hologram and blue seal on the front page and a watermark. The words "Certificate of Title" may be printed vertically in a light ink on the left and right sides of the page using degrees of shading. The volume and folio numbers are also printed in the top right-hand corner. These titles only record the current land ownership and any mortgages or other things that affect the land, and do not include a map or diagram.
If you do not have a mortgage and cannot find your paper Certificate of Title, you should conduct the following enquiries:
- Check all your personal documents, as these may contain the Certificate of Title or a copy of it and a letter advising who is holding the original.
- Check the contents of any safe deposit boxes and safe custody envelopes, and look in any other place where you keep important documents.
- Ask the lawyer or conveyancer who acted for you when you purchased the land or had any other dealings with it, for example if your mortgage was repaid and discharged. Often important documents are kept in your lawyer's deeds room. Even if the lawyer or conveyancer does not hold the original Certificate of Title, if your file is less than seven years old you may be able to obtain copies of the title and, from the contents of that file, confirm what last happened to it. The same applies if you have a general law title, as explained above.
- Do an "issues search" at Land Victoria to identify the last person to whom the Certificate of Title was issued, for a small fee.
- Do a "title search" at Land Victoria to confirm that the paper Certificate of Title is not an electronic Certificate of Title, for a small fee.
As explained below, you should make a note of all of the searches you have made, as this information will be required in connection with your application to replace the paper Certificate of Title.
How do I replace the certificate of title?
Provided that your Certificate of Title is not an electronic Certificate of Title, you can make your own application to replace your paper Certificate of Title. To do this, you will need to:
- complete a Form 10 "Application for a New Certificate of Title in Place of One Lost or Destroyed", which is available from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning;
- arrange for a statutory declaration to be completed by you and any other current owner of the land explaining what happened to the Certificate of Title after it was issued by Land Victoria. A statutory declaration is also required from any other person who has dealt with the Certificate of Title, such as your lawyer. A copy of the statutory declaration document is located from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning;
- obtain a copy of your most recent rates notice, showing the rated owners and council valuation;
- if you own the land in the name of a company, obtain a copy of a company search identifying the company's officers (one of which will be making the statutory declaration referred to above); and
- lodge these documents at Land Victoria along with the applicable fees.
Further details about this process can be found in the “Guide to Replacing a Lost or Destroyed Certificate of Title”.
Alternatively, you may wish to instruct a lawyer to prepare the application on your behalf. If you decide to do this, you should advise the lawyer of the searches you made for the Certificate of Title and, if possible, the volume and folio numbers. If you do not have a record of the volume and folio numbers, the lawyer will need the full names of the owners of the land and the property address in order to identify the correct title and to obtain a title search to help them prepare the application.
Other information may be required depending on the circumstances of the loss or destruction of the Certificate of Title, as Land Victoria is required by law to satisfy itself as to certain evidence before approving an application for a replacement Certificate of Title.
What will it cost?
These will depend on the amount of work involved. If the total legal costs excluding GST and disbursements (which are your lawyer’s out-of-pocket expenses such as photocopying fees) are likely to exceed $750, lawyers are required to write to you providing details of their costs.
Title searches and fees payable to Land Victoria
As at the financial year commencing 1 July 2016, the current fee for replacing a lost or destroyed Certificate of Title is $185.40, plus an assurance fund contribution calculated as follows:
- for land valued up to $200,000, a contribution of $100;
- for land valued between $200,000 and $500,000, a contribution of 0.1% of the value of the land; and
- for land valued over $500,000, a contribution of up to $600.
If the contents of your property were destroyed, for example by a fire at that property, the cost of replacing documents may be covered by your insurance policy. If you do not have a copy of the policy to check, you can contact your insurer to find out if the cost is covered by your insurance. Some insurers may also provide emergency assistance if your property has been destroyed or damaged by a bushfire. You should contact your insurance provider to seek reimbursement of these replacement fees.
Some contact details provided by insurers are as follows:
Why should I replace my title?
You will need to produce a Certificate of Title whenever you are required to confirm you are the owner of your land. This may include when you wish to:
- sell your land;
- lease your land; or
- grant a mortgage over your land (as the Mortgagee will want to hold the Certificate of Title as security for repayment of the loan).
Electronic certificates of title
The conversion of paper Certificates of Title to electronic, paperless Certificates of Title is currently underway in Victoria. This means that, eventually, there will be no paper Certificates of Title.
Land Victoria is currently working with the major banks to convert Certificates of Title. The conversion process will occur in two phases:
- from September 2016, all major banks will replace paper Certificates of Title with electronic Certificates of Title for transfers of land and other land dealings from late October 2016; and
- from late October 2016, Land Victoria will conduct a bulk conversion of paper Certificates of Title to electronic Certificates of Title where a major bank is the first mortgagee registered on title.
If you purchased a property during or after October 2016 and a major bank was your Mortgagee, your Certificate of Title will be electronic. A duplicate paper Certificate of Title will not be available.
Once the above process is complete, Land Victoria will begin working with all other persons holding paper Certificates of Title.