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Torrens title

The Torrens title system was introduced to NSW with the commencement of the Real Property Act on 1 January 1863. Since then all land granted by the Crown is subject to the provisions of that Act.

This system was designed by Robert Richard Torrens for the South Australian land title registry when he was appointed Registrar of that state in the 1850's. He based his brilliant, simple system on the method of insuring shipping used by Lloyds of London. It used a single register for each land holding and recorded all details and interests affecting that land such as:

  • easements
  • covenants
  • mortgages
  • resumptions
  • caveats
  • subsequent changes in ownership.

The greatest advantage of Torrens title is that it is a single document guaranteed by the State Government of New South Wales. A Certificate of Title (CT) is a copy of the related Folio of the Torrens Land Title Register. More information about the new security features CTs is available in The benefits of NSW land title information sheet (PDF 1.2 MB)

The Torrens Title or Real Property Register is in three parts:

1. Old form bound Register (1863 to 1961) Volumes 1 to 8497

  • larger paper format,
  • filed in Volume/Folio order
  • 250 folios to each volume, each volume comprises five colour coded sections of 50 folios each.

The Old form bound Register shows:

  • origin of title ie grant details, primary application
  • previous title reference
  • successive title reference number(s)
  • land description points
  • diagram sketch of land in all but most modem part of Register.

A new folio was created:

  • when current title could not hold further endorsements
  • when part was sold
  • when land was held by tenants in common - a separate title issued for each owner's share
  • if land was sold under provisions of Local Government Act for unpaid rates, etc.

This Register contains all original strata titles which issued between 1961 and 1984: they were all converted to the Integrated Titling System. The majority of this Bound Register has been cancelled by the Integrated Titling System.

2. New form loose leaf Register (from 1961 onwards)

  • Volume 8497 onwards.
  • 250 folios to each volume.
  • Loose leaf filing, accessed by photocopy only.
  • Format differs from previous old form Torrens Register with smaller, mass produced or hand drawn diagrams in most cases (not for strata plans).
  • Endorsements cancelled by ruling through.
  • Successive registered proprietors shown in first schedule.
  • Second schedule shows any affecting instrument e.g. mortgage, lease, easement, covenant, caveat etc.
  • Origin of title, previous and successive title references shown on all but a few titles.
  • Originally, when title was incapable of further endorsements, a new edition with same Volume/Folio reference issued, later a new Volume/Folio reference was issued.
  • Notifications entered in chronological order, with a separate memorial for each instrument.

When ordering copies from the old or new form Registers which are not the current title, it is important to specify that you require the cancelled title when applying for a photocopy for your searching - normally the updated computer folio will be supplied.

3. Integrated Titling System (ITS)

  • Initially known as the Automated Land Titles System (ALTS) it commenced on 31 October 1983, ended 14 May 1999 when it was replaced by Integrated Titling System (ITS).
  • First computerised Torrens title system worldwide.
  • Uses folio identifiers from lot and plan numbers, rather than Volume/Folio eg Lot 1 in Deposited Plan 12345 bears the folio identifier 1/12345.
  • Registration of any instrument generates a completely up-to-date new edition of the title.
  • Details of previous dealings under the automated system and origin of title are available from historical search.
  • No diagrams are shown on the title: it bears a notation showing plan number of title diagram.
  • Notations of any unregistered dealings, plans or resumption actions etc are shown.
  • Searching of the ITS can be done online.

Torrens Title Purchaser's Index

This index commenced with the Torrens System on 1 January 1863 and is still in use. The index is in book form from 1863 to 1970 and was held on Microfiche from 1971 to 2001. The index is in alphabetical order of surname only until 1883 and strict alphabetical order from that date.

From the commencement of the Torrens System all grants appear in this index together with all Transfers etc dealing with land under the System.

From 4 June 2001 the Purchaser's Index as held on microfiche was merged with the Integrated Titling System (ITS).

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